Los Angeles – LAWFUEL – This morning a federal jury in Los Angeles convicted the owner/operator of several home healthcare service providers of tax fraud charges related to the defendant’s participation in a scheme to divert income form the business she and a co-defendant controlled to their personal benefit.
Maria Cecilia Sy Chico, also known as Mario Chico, formerly of Tujunga, California, was indicted last year along with her co-conspirator, Marites Tolentino, also of Tujunga, on charges of subscribing to a false tax return. Tolentino previously pleaded guilty to subscribing to a false tax return for the 2000 tax year earlier this year and awaits sentencing.
According to the indictment, Chico owned and operated RBJ Management, Inc., doing business as Helping Hands Health Care, from 2000 through 2004. During this time, Chico also operated three additional healthcare related businesses, including Total Quality Home Care, Inc., Four Seasons Quality Home health, Inc., and Global Management Support Services, Inc. Chico’s co-defendant, Tolentino, owned and operated Cillmar Professional Management Services, Inc., another healthcare-related business, during this time.
For the tax years 2000 and 2001, Chico failed to report on her federal income tax returns that she had received, directly or indirectly, hundreds of thousands of dollars in income, including fake loan repayments, payments to third parties on her behalf, and payments to Caesar’s Palace, from the businesses she and Tolentino operated.
The indictment details that, in 2000, as a part of the fake loan scheme, Chico and Tolentino diverted approximately $135,000 from Total Quality to Helping Hands as a fake loan from Tolentino’s son. Subsequent re-payments totaling approximately $141,000, ostensibly made to Tolentino’s son, were deposited to Chico and Tolentino’s bank account. Neither Chico nor Tolentino reported any portion of these diverted funds on their personal tax returns.
In her plea agreement, Tolentino admits that she failed to report any of the $141,000 in diverted funds she had received and deposited into her joint personal bank account she maintained with Chico on her 2000 tax return. Tolentino, who was trained as an accountant, admitted that at the time she filed the tax return that she knowingly and willfully attempted to decrease her tax liability for the year 2000.
In the government’s summation for the jury, Assistant United States Attorney James Bowman specified that, as a result of her actions, Chico failed to report to the Internal Revenue Service approximately $220,000 on her year 2000 federal income tax return. Similarly, AUSA Bowman related that, for the 2001 tax year, Chico had not reported approximately $87,000 on her tax return.
When sentenced for her two crimes, Chico faces a statutory maximum of 6 years in federal prison and fines totaling $500,000. Tolentino faces a statutory maximum 3 years in federal prison and fines totaling $250,000.
United States District Judge Manuel L. Real ordered Chico to appear for sentencing on July 7, 2008. Tolentino is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14, 2008
The investigation and prosecution of Chico and Tolentino was conducted by IRS – Criminal Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office – Tax Division in Los Angeles.