Virginia couple plead guilty in Maryland body shop tax case

The Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office statement said Ercin, 60, and Lizette Kalender, 44, defrauded the IRS of $2.2 million.

An Alexandria, Virginia couple have pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges related to tax evasion in taxes filed for their Maryland body shop.

The Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office statement said Ercin Kalender, 60, and his wife Lizette, 44, cheated the IRS out of $2.2 million.

Together, the couple ran Butch’s Auto Body Shop in Capitol Heights, Maryland. Ercin ran the popular body shop and Lizette kept the books.

The scheme fell apart when the couple tried to sell the store in 2018.

According to an FBI investigation, the Kalenders kept two sets of books and bragged about them to an undercover agent posing as someone who wanted to buy the company.

During the discussion, authorities said the couple pointed to the hidden millions from the tax authorities by asking to be paid by check. They then cashed those checks at a third, unnamed location.

The money from these cashed checks was not reported and, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, these checks sometimes totaled between $50,000 and $60,000.

“This cash employee payment system starved the state of Maryland of tax revenue and subverted the IRS and Maryland tax systems,” the statement said.

The Baltimore U.S. Attorney says the couple deceived the IRS on their taxes in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. Additionally, the IRS says the couple underreported more than $6.6 million. . This resulted in a tax loss of $2,219,602. Additionally, authorities said the Kalenders have significantly reduced their gross and taxable income reporting over time.

The Kalenders must now repay the $2.2. million owed to the IRS and face up to five years in prison. The couple also face three years of supervised probation.

Judgment is expected in May.

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