Norcross man sentenced in tax scheme

ATLANTA - Ben Nyemah Badio, 46, of Norcross was sentenced Friday for operating a $1.5 million tax fraud scheme.

Badio, also known as Kawi Badio, was sentenced to six years, six months in federal prison, ordered to serve five years of supervised release, ordered to pay more than $400,000 in restitution to the IRS and ordered to pay his interest in a 2002 Cadillac Escalade, which was the subject of a $55,000 money laundering violation, forfeited to the United States.

He pleaded guilty April 18 to one count of criminal conspiracy, nine counts of filing false claims with the IRS, nine counts of bank fraud and three counts of money laundering.

His brother, Elroy Badio, 35, of Marietta, who also had pleaded guilty to assisting in the conspiracy, was sentenced to six months of home confinement to be followed by six months of probation, and ordered to pay more than $20,000 in restitution. He received a reduction in his sentence based on his cooperation with the government in this case.

Ben Badio is a former tax preparer who operated in Gwinnett County in 2000 and 2001. According to the evidence, he electronically filed more than 80 false tax returns in 2000 and 2001, and without the knowledge of his clients falsely claimed inflated refunds in their name in excess of $1,500,000. Elroy Badio assisted his brother in the scheme and was found liable for false returns in excess of $200,000, authorities said.

Ben Badio and in some cases Elroy Badio filled out tax forms claiming that each of these taxpayer-clients was entitled to thousands of dollars in federal fuel tax credit, authorities said. Ben Badio then caused the refunds to be sent to himself, through bank accounts he controlled, by way of refund anticipation bank loans.

He also conducted three transactions that constituted the additional crime of money laundering. Specifically, he purchased a $55,000 Cadillac Escalade, a $50,000 Mercedes and made a $50,000 investment in a local restaurant, all with the proceeds of his fraud, authorities said.

U. S. Attorney David E. Nahmias said, "(Friday's) sentences reflect the seriousness with which our office, the IRS and the courts take frauds involving the nation's tax system. Most taxpayers and their preparers are honest and lawful, but a few tax preparers make their living on victimizing the taxpayers generally and their clients specifically. Those fraudsters face federal prosecution and prison time."