Dallas Attorney and Members of Accounting Firm Charged with Promoting Illegal Tax Shelter

Scheme Allegedly Resulted in $1 Billion in Fraudulent Tax Deductions

A superseding indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Dallas today charging a Texas lawyer and three co-conspirators with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, helping their clients file false tax returns, and conspiracy to defraud the United States, all based on an illegal tax shelter they promoted and helped implement. Joseph Garza, of Dallas, was previously charged on Oct. 18. The superseding indictment adds charges against three tax professionals, Kevin McDonnell, James Richardson and Craig Fenton.

According to the original indictment, from approximately 2012 to 2021 Garza promoted a tax shelter that allowed high-income clients to claim fraudulent tax deductions that reduced the taxes they owed to the IRS. Garza and his co-conspirators allegedly directed the clients to transfer funds into shell companies, then returned this money to the clients, untaxed, for their personal use. To conceal the circular flow of funds, Garza and the co-conspirators allegedly commissioned fictitious business valuation reports, created invoices for fake business expenses, and drafted sham contractual agreements.

The superseding indictment alleges that Garza directed clients to use hand-picked CPAs and other tax professionals, including McDonnell, Richardson and Fenton. McDonnell and Richardson, both CPAs, allegedly owned and operated McDonnell Richardson, P.C., an accounting, tax preparation, and legal services business located in Waxahachie. McDonnell allegedly is also a licensed attorney. Fenton allegedly was employed as a tax manager at McDonnell Richardson.

McDonnell, Richardson and Fenton allegedly helped Garza run the illegal tax shelter by preparing and filing fraudulent tax returns for the high-income clients and the shell companies, among other entities. The scheme allegedly allowed clients to conceal $1 billion from the IRS and caused a total tax loss exceeding $200 million.

McDonnell, Richardson and Fenton will all make their initial appearances at a later date before a U.S. Magistrate Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. If convicted, all four men face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud, 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, three years in prison for each count of aiding and assisting in the filing of false tax returns, and five years for conspiracy to defraud the United States. A federal district court judge will determine any sentences after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham for the Northern District of Texas made the announcement.

IRS Criminal Investigations and the FBI are investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Renee Hunter, Katherine Miller and Marty Basu and trial attorney Robert A. Kemins of the Tax Division are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.