A California tax preparer who helped steal $44 million in pandemic loans and also bilked the IRS on behalf of pro athletes has earned a 10-year prison sentence, one of the lengthiest issued so far for pandemic fraud.
Quin Ngoc Rudin, 55, was a convicted felon already out on supervised release when he used his business, Mana Tax Services, to file false tax returns for at least nine athletes.
That fraud cost the feds at least $19 million, prosecutors said, and he and his co-conspirators earned $3.1 million for themselves.
Rudin also used Mana Tax to prepare and submit bogus applications for Paycheck Protection Program loans during the pandemic. He and his collaborators filed 42 applications, and the government paid out $43,810,330 on them.
Rudin admitted that his business collected nearly $4 million of those ill-gotten gains, though he denies seeing much of that personally.
Jessica D. Aber, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, called the scope of the scam “staggering.”
“Today’s sentence demonstrates the swift and exacting justice that awaits anyone who attempts to steal funds from the U.S. Government and taxpayers,” she said.
The government said it had recovered $15 million of the money that it paid out on the bogus claims and tax returns.
Rudin, in asking the judge for leniency, said he pumped the money he received into his community, funding COVID-19 vaccine clinics in low-income areas around Las Vegas and in Hawaii.
“I know that my conduct was selfish and it was wrong. And though misguided, I also felt that I was able to help my community,” he wrote to the judge.
Rudin, an immigrant from Vietnam, had previous convictions in 2014 for wire fraud and aggravated identity fraud.
His lawyer, citing Rudin’s age of 55 and his quintuple bypass surgery last year, had asked for a sentence of 7 1/2 years.
Prosecutors had sought a sentence of 11 years and three months.
“He has made clear that, when given the opportunity to lie to get money, he will take it,” Kimberly R. Pederson and Kimberly M. Sharter, the two assistant U.S. attorneys who prosecuted the case, told the judge.
Rudin didn’t end up with much of the cash. Most of it went to his chief co-conspirator, Seir Robinson Havana.
But authorities said that seemed to be more a way to shield the money from restitution payments Rudin owed on his previous convictions.
Havana has also pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
Rudin worked for the IRS from 1988 to 1990.
Federal prosecutors earlier this week announced pandemic cases against five current and former IRS employees in the Memphis, Tennessee, area. Each of them is accused of submitting bogus loan applications for themselves.