Information from a Department of Justice Press release and Patch staff.
Clifford Dale Bercovich of San Rafael and Howard Webber were charged earlier this month with conspiracy, mail fraud, and aggravated identity theft, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez.
According to the 31-count indictment, Bercovich, 66, and Webber, who lived in Marin County and Milwaukee, Wis., filed false federal income tax returns for prison inmates that claimed tax refunds based on the Earned Income Credit and/or Making Work Pay Credit. In carrying out the fraud scheme, Bercovich allegedly created an information sheet for “Inmate Assets Recovery and Liquidation Services” to obtain personal identifying information from prison inmates. Bercovich allegedly used this information to prepare and file false federal income tax returns for the inmates.
The tax returns reported fictitious figures for “wages, salaries, and tips,” which fraudulently inflated the Earned Income Credit and/or Making Work Pay Credit resulting in false tax refunds. The tax refunds were deposited into a bank account established by Bercovich. The defendants split a fee of $250 or 25% of the fraudulent refund.
According to the State Bar of California, Bercovich was an attorney who was disbarred from practicing in 1990 after a grand theft conviction related to misappropriating more than $100,000 of a client's funds.
On his LinkedIn account, Bercovich lists his current occupation as real estate mortgage and consulting.
The maximum statutory penalty for each count of conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C § 1349, is 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C § 1341, is 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The maximum penalty for aggravated identity theft in violation of Title 18, U.S.C § 1028A, is a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison, and a fine of $250,000 plus restitution. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Assistant United States Attorney Cynthia Stier is prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.