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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Repeat Fraudster Sentenced For Falsely Claiming Over $23 Million In Tax Refunds And Scheming To Defraud Credit Unions

IRS Paid More Than $12 Million in “Refunds” to Illegal Alien Previously Convicted of Fraud

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Makushamari Gozo, age 41, a native of Zimbabwe residing in Baltimore, Maryland, to 11 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for filing claims for more than $23 million in fraudulent alternative fuel tax credits and refunds and personal tax refunds, as well as engaging in schemes to fraudulently obtain more than $3 million in loans from credit unions. Judge Blake also ordered Gozo to pay restitution totaling $202,667.23.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Kelly of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Gozo previously was convicted of mortgage fraud in 2004 and sentenced to serve 57 months in federal prison. He was determined to be a deportable alien, but was not deported because of issues related to his travel documents.

“Makushamari Gozo was convicted of mortgage fraud in 2004, sentenced to serve 57 months in federal prison, and escaped deportation only because of a technicality,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “He responded by filing fabricated tax returns claiming refunds, which caused the IRS to issue checks for more than $12 million in fraudulent refunds. Mr. Gozo also attempted to obtain over $3 million in fraudulent loans from credit unions.”

According to evidence presented at his one week trial, beginning in 2010, Gozo used several entities he controlled to file fraudulent claims for tax refunds. Gozo filed individual income tax returns falsely claiming that from 2007 to 2011, he earned wages from two of his companies and was entitled to tax refunds totaling more the $417,000. In addition, Gozo filed tax returns falsely claiming that a third company had sustained losses in 2007 through 2009 which entitled Gozo to more than $76,000 in tax refunds. From October 31, 2011 to February 17, 2012, Gozo also filed false excise tax returns claiming that a fourth company was entitled to approximately $22,657,137 in alternative fuel tax refunds and credits based on having purchased or used over 39 million gallons of alternative fuel. In fact, the entities were all sham businesses that existed in name only.

Trial evidence also showed that between July and September 2010, Gozo defrauded several credit unions to obtain fraudulent automobile and business loans. Gozo submitted four loan applications to the credit unions in which he misrepresented his income and employment in order to buy luxury automobiles that Gozo never actually purchased. Gozo also submitted a fraudulent loan application for a $3 million business loan in the name of another one of his sham companies. On the business loan application, Gozo made fraudulent statements about the financial and business affairs of the company in order to make it appear financially successful, and submitted several false corporate tax returns claiming that the company controlled millions of dollars in assets.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the IRS Criminal Investigation for its work in the investigation and thanked Assistant United States Attorneys David I. Sharfstein and Peter M. Nothstein, who prosecuted the case.

Updated January 26, 2015