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U.S. Justice Department sues Hernando Beach tax preparer over income tax credits

HERNANDO BEACH — The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit Thursday against a Hernando Beach businessman, alleging he is the mastermind of a $30 million tax scheme that spans 14 states.

George Calvert, 60, who owns the tax-preparation business Calvert and Associates, is listed as one of four certified public accountants, 27 tax preparers and one other individual in a civil injunction involving bogus income tax credits claimed for the sale of alternative fuels.

His business partner, Gregory Guido of Lithia, and Walter Drakeford of Tampa are also named, according to the 59-page complaint.

"It's a fairly major to-do because it covers so much area and so many people," said Charles Miller, a Justice Department spokesman in Washington, D.C.

The complaint alleges that Calvert and Guido created documents purportedly proving the sale of methane from landfills in four states and Puerto Rico — but not Florida. This allowed more than 6,000 customers in at least 14 states to claim tax credits for the sale of "fuel from nonconventional sources" between 2001 and 2006.

Miller couldn't say whether any Hernando residents were clients of Calvert, nor whether any here claimed such credits.

Calvert, a member of the Hernando Beach Yacht Club, did not return calls to his home on Amberjack Drive.

According to the civil complaint, the alleged scheme, which dates back to at least 2001, worked this way: Customers purportedly bought an interest in an methane energy production facility located in Illinois, New York, Ohio, Connecticut or Puerto Rico. Federal authorities said in most cases the facilities didn't exist, and when they did, no infrastructure existed to produce energy.

Calvert and Guido created at least four businesses — including GRP2 or National Tax Inc., located in Hernando County — to sell the credits and hide the true identity and location of the landfills, the complaint states.

The system became widespread through promotion by tax preparers — mostly from Texas — who acted as subcontractors, federal authorities said.

Calvert is a former certified public accountant who worked for Arthur Andersen & Co. for more than 20 years. He also served as an alternative fuel consultant.

Involved in the energy trade since the early 1980s, Calvert served as president and chief operating officer for Extratech Inc., a natural gas processing firm in Tampa, records show.

Federal authorities said he began selling fraudulent interests in sham energy facilities for his firm Resource Technology Corp., based in Chicago, and then prepared income tax returns for his customers.

Guido, a certified public accountant, joined the effort in 2001. Authorities said he is the co-founder and chief financial officer of Extratech.

John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6114.

U.S. Justice Department sues Hernando Beach tax preparer over income tax credits 04/02/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 2, 2009 7:31pm]
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