San Diego tax preparer sentenced for illegal operation of a $5 million money transmission business


Date: December 5, 2022


SAN DIEGO — Jose Luis Gonzalez was sentenced in federal court today to 30 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $5,052,037 for transmitting more than $5 million dollars through an unregistered money transmission business and claiming more than $19 million dollars in fraudulent tax deductions in connection with the scheme.

According to court documents, Gonzalez conspired with others to operate an unregistered money transmission business in the Southern District of California. Gonzalez and his co-conspirators accepted and deposited cash throughout the United States, wire transferred the cash deposits throughout the United States, and ultimately transferred the funds to Mexico.

For example, Gonzalez and co-conspirators opened approximately 11 bank accounts for "shell" corporations in the Southern District of California. From just October 1, 2018 to May 2, 2019, no less than $5,052,037 in U.S. currency, checks, and money orders were deposited into the "shell" accounts at bank branches and ATMs throughout the United States.

About 95 percent of the funds were transferred to Mexico-based bank accounts. The co-conspirators charged a money transmission fee or commission. The purpose of this scheme was to evade domestic and foreign laws regarding money transfer and reporting.

According to his plea agreement, Gonzalez prepared 12 false corporation income tax returns for 10 of the "shell" corporations. In total, Gonzalez created $19,615,192 in bogus deductions that nearly 'zeroed' out the corporations' gross receipts. One egregious example was a fraudulent 2017 corporate income tax return that Gonzalez prepared for Jeva International, Inc. Per the income tax return Gonzalez prepared and filed with the IRS, Jeva reported gross receipts of $3,092,253 and listed a false deduction of $3,053,359 for legal and professional outside services.

In addition, in the spring of 2019, an Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation undercover operation was conducted at Gonzalez's office. Gonzalez was recorded explaining to the undercover officer how he was taking discrete steps to fraudulently reduce the undercover officer's taxable income.

"No matter the sophisticated means a criminal organization uses to evade laws governing the international transfer of money, federal law enforcement will follow the money back to the criminal mastermind," U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said. "We will not hesitate to prosecute that organization's criminal enablers, including professional tax preparers who unlawfully assist these schemes." Grossman thanked the prosecution team and agents from IRS Criminal Investigation, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG), and the San Diego Police Department for their excellent work on this case.

"Tax preparers like Gonzalez, who use their knowledge and profession to aid in the execution of money laundering schemes, will be held accountable," stated Special Agent in Charge Tyler Hatcher of the IRS Criminal Investigation's Los Angeles Field Office. "Today's sentencing shows our commitment to unraveling complex financial transactions and holding professionals responsible for their role in these schemes."

This case is the result of ongoing efforts by the Financial Investigations and Border Crimes Task Force, a partnership targeting unlawful transactions through the financial system. The task force brings together the combined expertise of federal, state, and local law enforcement.