Man convicted of multiple counts of tax fraud

A Burnaby man has been convicted of 15 counts in a complicated case involving the income tax returns of 21 people.

Mark Andrew Rosie had been charged with 20 counts of making or participating in false income tax refund claims, three counts of evading or attempting to evade taxes owed by other people and four counts of possession of stolen property.

According to the recent B.C. Supreme Court judgment by Justice Deborah Kloegman, prosecutors claimed that Rosie "created and directed a multi-year, overarching scheme to defraud the government and others, by obtaining false income tax refunds, evading taxes, and stealing bona fide tax refund cheques."

While the judgment did not include the value of all the fraudulently-obtained tax refunds, those mentioned total about $84,000.

Several of the counts involved the use of the same names, addresses and other details.

Evidence was shown that some of the false returns were telefiled from Lower Mainland hotels, and the addresses on the returns—including ones in Burnaby, Richmond, North Vancouver and Coquitlam—were often those of homes where Rosie was living at the time, addresses he used on his business card or ones otherwise associated to him.

Several of the returns claimed spousal deductions listing the same name as spouse, a former crack addict who had allowed "a guy named 'Mark'" to prepare some of her tax returns in the past.

And a number claimed business losses for recycling companies which did not exist.

Adas International appears as the company that prepared nine of the returns in question, and while the judge found one of the principals, Lenka Simons, "less than candid" about her involvement and claims not to recognize the accused or any of the clients he brought her, the judge noted only Rosie was charged.

Rosie's defence lawyers argued the evidence was weak, mostly due to "the lack of credibility of unsavoury witnesses."

Many of the people for whom Rosie was convicted of submitting falsified tax returns were drug addicts.

In one case, a 2004 tax return was filed in the name of Mark Bennett claiming a spousal deduction, generating a refund of almost $10,300.

Bennett testified he had never been married and never received the refund cheque. He said he met Rosie through a friend who told him that if he did Bennett's taxes, he could get more money and would share it with him.

"Mr. Bennett didn't ask any questions, just gave the accused his SIN and date of birth," Kloegman said.

"Mr. Bennett started to approach drug users and offer them drugs in exchange for personal information which he would then turn over to the accused in order to file tax returns. This went on for a couple of months until the accused told Mr. Bennett that Mr. Bennett’s refund cheque had been 'ripped off' from the accused."

In another case, tax returns for Lorraine Kehler, who has known Rosie since he was a teenager, claimed business losses from Rosie's Recycling, which she testified was the name of the accused's business.

"The purport of her evidence was to the effect that she gave money to the accused from time to time, and the accused had business losses which he allowed her to claim on her T1 and receive a refund as payment of his debt."

Rosie's own 2004 tax return was also found to be falsified. In it, he claimed almost $69,000 in income when he only received about $9,200 from social assistance that year.

Often refund cheques were deposited into other people's accounts from which cheques were written.

Kloegman noted she disagreed with a defence argument that one particular account where refund cheques were deposited could not be proven to belong to Rosie.

"Without some evidence to the contrary, it would be speculation to doubt that HSBC account ... bearing the accused’s name, and into which the accused was identified on video surveillance photographs as having made other deposits, was in the care and control of anyone other than the accused."

In the end, Rosie was convicted of 11 counts of making false tax refund claims, three counts of tax evasion, two counts of possession of stolen property (refund cheques).

He was acquitted on the rest which, while raising "strong suspicions," could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

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