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Former Northridge CPA Gets Two Years for Tax Fraud

A sentence is handed down to a fugitive who fled to Pakistan for three years.

A former Northridge-based certified public accountant who spent three years as a fugitive in Pakistan was sentenced Thursday to two years in federal prison for his role in a scheme in which the personal information of dead people was used to claim more than $2 million in tax refunds.

Masood Chotani pleaded guilty in January before U.S. District Judge S. James Otero to a charge of conspiring to defraud the United States, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

Otero also ordered Chotani to pay restitution of about $60,000 and spend a year on supervised release following his release from prison.

An indictment stated that in 2002 and 2003, Chotani and two others conspired to file at least 250 false income tax returns with the IRS using names and Social Security numbers of deceased individuals, claiming more than $2 million in refunds.

Many of the illegally obtained refund checks were deposited into bank accounts within the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Republic of Armenia, federal prosecutors said.

According to court documents, most of the offenses occurred in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and Ventura counties.

Co-defendants Haroon Amin and Ather Ali previously pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and have been sentenced to federal prison.

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