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Criminal Corner

Fake CPA, Partner Sentenced for Bogus Investment Scheme

A Glendale tax preparation business owner and his colleague were each sentenced to five years in state prison and ordered to pay $1.3 million restitution after pleading guilty to their roles in a bogus investment scheme.

Donald R. Ford, of Glendale, and Gregory A. Edwards, of Culver City, were sentenced on November 30, on multiple felony charges including financial elder abuse, grand theft, false statements in the offer or sale of a security, and filing of a false state income tax return related to a bogus securities investment scheme.

Ford persuaded senior citizen clients, whose trust he had gained from his tax preparation business, to invest in a phony investment scheme. Ford, who posed as a certified public accountant, and Edwards scammed investors by promising them high rates of return on investments. Instead, Ford and Edwards used the money on personal expenses and to fund a lavish lifestyle, which included luxury cars and expensive vacations. 

Ford earned more than $1.3 million in income from the unlawful scheme and Edwards earned more than $961,000 for his role in the scam. Ford failed to report this income on his 2005, 2006 and 2007 state income tax returns and Edwards failed to report his income on his 2005, 2006 and 2007 state income tax return. All income is taxable including income from illegal sources.

The pair is scheduled to surrender January 30, to begin their prison sentences.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry handed down the sentence November 30, in Department 104 of the Clara Shortridge Folz Criminal Justice Center. California Department of Justice (DOJ) Deputy Attorney General, Edward Skelly prosecuted this case. This is a joint investigation between DOJ and us.

CPAs are licensed by the state. The public can check on the status of a CPA with the California Board of Accountancy at www.cba.ca.gov or by calling 916.263.3680. We and the IRS have issued a brochure, FTB Publication 982, How to Select an Income Tax Return Preparer where taxpayers can learn more about choosing a tax professional.

Our criminal investigation program identifies and investigates cases of tax evasion and tax fraud to encourage compliance with California income tax laws and maintain public trust.

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