Back in grade school, you did all sorts of math problems. You started out with drills to learn your basic addition, subtraction, and multiplication. You learned long division (ugh). You moved on to fractions. And all along the way, as part of your teachers’ efforts to convince you that it all matters here in the “real world,” you did “story problems.” Remember those?

Well, now you’re all grown up, so here’s a grownup story problem to ponder:

You’re an IRS auditor, toiling away to protect the government’s revenue base. Then you decide to leave “the dark side” and start your own practice. Things start off great, but you want more. So you mock up some fake tax returns, tell some clients they owe $11 million, and have them make payments into a bogus “trust account.” Then you take the money for yourself, make some home improvements, buy a beach house in Mexico, pay to use a private plane, pay $2 million on your personal credit cards and loans, and make some investments. It’s good to be rich, isn’t it? But now there’s a teensy-weensy little problem. The IRS is on to you, your clients are hopping mad, and two of them are scheduled to testify against you! What do you do?

Well, if you’re Steven Martinez of Ramona, California, you send your limousine driver (!) to offer a hit man $100,000 to take out the clients. But you don’t just whisper some names in his ear and slink back home. Oh, no. Because you’re an accountant, you’re thorough. Right? So you surveil the victims and watch them to document their habits. You give the hit man packets with photos of the victims and their homes and detailed instructions and information about them. (How else do you think an accountant would go about whacking his clients?)

Unfortunately, Martinez should have followed his hit man, too. Then Martinez would have seen him scurrying straight to the FBI. (Oops.) It’s tough to deny the charges when the Feds have you on video, “cool and calculating,” telling your killer to buy two guns – and a silencer! (Try explaining that when it hits YouTube and goes viral!)

Last year, Martinez pled guilty to charges including murder-for-hire, witness tampering involving attempted murder, solicitation of a crime of violence, mail fraud, filing false returns, Social Security fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering. (You’ve got to wonder, if he had jaywalked to meet with the hit man, would they have charged him with that, too?) On April 12, 2013, District Court Judge William Q. Hayes pretty much threw the book at him, sentencing him to 286 months in prison (plus five years supervised release if he ever makes it out) and ordering him to pay more than $14 million in restitution. Let’s see what sort of “home improvements” Martinez can make with the 11 cents/hour he makes stamping license plates!

As tax professionals ourselves, we’re appalled at how Steven Martinez betrayed his clients. We’re proud to affirm our commitment to helping you save tax within the bounds of the law – because we know just how many legitimate opportunities there are to save. We’re pleased to offer you the plan that helps you save taxes and sleep soundly at night. So call us for that plan!

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