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Romanian living in Skokie gets 7 years for $1.6M tax fraud

Updated: May 19, 2013 6:44AM

A north suburban man convicted of being the U.S. leader of an international conspiracy that received about $1.6 million in fraudulent tax returns will spend more than 7 years in federal prison.

Ovidiu Isac, 31, a Romanian native living in Skokie, directed 23 co-conspirators in the Chicago area who used their bank accounts to receive the phony refunds and divert the money to Romania after taking a cut, a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

A total of at least 470 false returns, claiming $4,000-$7,000, were filed in the names of Romanian citizens who had previously visited the United States on exchange student visas and filed returns, but were no longer in the country, prosecutors said.

Isac was sentenced Friday to 85 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.64 million by U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle, who also ordered that he deported after serving his sentence, according to prosecutors. Isac had pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to defraud the government and theft of government funds.

The false returns caused a loss of more than $1.6 million to the U.S. Treasury from tax years 2007-09, according to prosecutors. They were filed in the names of real people who were unaware their identities were being used as they no longer lived in the United States.

At least 200 bank accounts in the names of more than 75 people were used to receive the money, some of which was kept and some of which was diverted to Romania, prosecutors said. In one case, Isac and co-conspirators physically attacked individuals associated with one suspect who refused to pay Isac his cut.

The returns included names and Social Security numbers of individuals who had traveled to the United States on temporary student visas and filed tax returns, but who no longer live here and were unlikely to file again.

Isac was arrested in April 2010 and with 23 co-defendants, 19 of whom have been convicted, while five remain fugitives.

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