Former CFO of Connecticut healthcare staffing agency pleads guilty to federal tax charge

 

Date: January 13, 2021

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Joleen Simpson, Acting Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in Boston announced today that Pamela Smith, of Kirkland, Washington, formerly of Guilford, Connecticut, pleaded guilty yesterday to aiding in the preparation of a false tax return.

Pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the court proceeding before U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden occurred via videoconference.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately 2009 and 2018, Smith was the Chief Financial Officer of Equinox Home Care, LLC ("EHC"), a home healthcare staffing agency based in Stratford, Connecticut. EHC was established as a partnership between Theresa Foreman and another individual. In September 2012, the partnership ended, and, by court order, Foreman was obligated to make payments to her partner for the purchase of the partner's interest in EHC.

At Foreman's direction, Smith and EHC's payroll manager helped Foreman receive money from EHC in a manner that hid the fact that Foreman was the true recipient of the funds. Beginning in 2012, EHC's payroll included payments to "ghost employees" who did not work for EHC, and those funds were actually for Foreman's benefit. As the CFO of EHC, Smith became aware that the payroll checks were being issued to the "ghost employees" and that EHC and its payroll manager were causing the false payroll checks to be issued. Smith also assisted Foreman by issuing or causing to be issued bonus checks from EHC to approximately 30 EHC employees. The employees cashed the checks and provided the cash to Foreman. Some of the employees later noticed that the amount of funds cashed had been included on their Forms W-2. Smith would issue a corrected W-2 only if an employee made a request. Several EHC employees did not request a corrected W-2 and, as a result, overpaid taxes to the IRS.

In addition, Foreman received funds through cashed mileage checks that were issued to two individuals who did not drive on behalf of EHC.

Smith interacted with the tax return preparer who prepared the partnership tax return in addition to Foreman's own individual income tax returns, and failed to inform the return preparer about funds that Foreman received through these various mechanisms. More than $600,000 of such funds were not reported on Foreman's 2014 tax return alone.

At sentencing, Smith faces a maximum term of imprisonment of three years. A sentencing date is not scheduled.

Foreman pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion and, on January 6, 2020, was sentenced to 12 months and one day of imprisonment and ordered to pay $641,941.46 in restitution.

As part of Smith's plea agreement with the government, the government submits that approximately $266,000 of the tax loss was foreseeable to Smith as a result of her conduct.

This matter is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer R. Laraia and Peter S. Jongbloed.