Leon Haynes is accused of attempting to claim over $124 million from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by submitting more than 1,000 false tax forms, falsely claiming COVID-19-related employment tax credits.
Teaneck resident Leon Haynes, a tax preparer, was arrested by the Justice Department on July 31 on charges related to an elaborate tax fraud scheme
According to court documents and statements from prosecutors, Leon Haynes took advantage of the COVID-19 relief programs designed to assist small businesses during the pandemic. From November 2020 to May 2023, he allegedly prepared and submitted 1,387 false forms to the IRS, overestimating the number of employees and wages for his own companies and his clients’ businesses. Leon Haynes then convinced his clients that they were eligible for the government’s COVID-19 relief money, charging them up to 15% of their tax refunds as fees, often paid in cash.
The scheme resulted in Leon Haynes receiving multiple tax refund checks totaling over $1 million from the U.S. Treasury. Additionally, at least $31.6 million in tax refunds were disbursed to his clients based on the false tax forms Leon Haynes submitted.
U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, Philip Sellinger, expressed his outrage, stating that Leon Haynes exploited the pandemic to enrich himself, while legitimate businesses were struggling
Tammy Tomlins, the special agent in charge of the Newark Field Office, emphasized their commitment to pursuing fraudsters who took advantage of the public health emergency for personal gain.
Leon Haynes is facing eight counts of aiding and assisting in the filing of false tax returns and one count of mail fraud. If convicted, he could face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 for the mail fraud charge and three years behind bars, and $250,000 fines for each count of assisting in the preparation of false returns. Leon Haynes’s initial court appearance was scheduled for Monday in Newark federal court. The identity of his attorney has not been disclosed yet.