March 11, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
An Astoria accounting professor who owns a local tax consultancy firm was sentenced to 14 months in prison Wednesday for preparing bogus tax returns — following a sting operation conducted by undercover investigators.
Ahmed Abdelhalim, who teaches at LaGuardia Community College, was sentenced in Brooklyn federal court after pleading guilty in October to one count of making false tax returns for clients at his firm Master Tax Consultants, located at 21-34 Broadway, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
According to federal court documents, Abdelhalim falsified personal income forms for his clients for tax years 2012 through 2016 – which cost the Internal Revenue Service nearly $167,000. One of his clients, however, proved to be an investigator.
Abdelhalim inflated or made-up deductions for gifts to charity on his clients’ tax returns. He also created expenses for his clients that they did not incur.
Another maneuver Abdelhalim used was to submit false Schedule C forms on behalf of his clients. The forms are typically used by freelancers and the operators of small businesses. The ruse helped his clients reduce their tax liabilities by creating losses even though they didn’t have such businesses.
The U.S. Justice Dept. recommended to the court that Abdelhalim serve prison time for the offenses — despite his guilty plea — given he repeatedly used his professional training and expertise to defraud the United States government.
The DOJ noted Abdelhalim was an accounting and income tax professor at LaGuardia Community College as well as a certified public accountant.
“Aiding others in intentionally failing to pay their fair share of taxes is a serious crime that affects each member of society as a loss of funds for essential shared government services slowly erodes the fabric of our communities,” the DOJ said in its sentencing memorandum
“The defendant was not hapless or desperate for income to provide for his family. Rather, he acted out of a pure greed to grow his business.”
The DOJ also recommend Abdelhalim pay $166,900 in restitution to the IRS, which the judge ordered.
A spokesperson for LaGuardia Community College told the Queens Post that Abdelhalim has been relieved of his teaching duties effective immediately and that the institution is moving toward terminating his employment.