Ohio man lies to avoid taxes on $1 million in lottery winnings; pleads guilty to tax fraud

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FILE – In this Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018 file photo, lottery forms for Louisiana Mega Millions, Powerball and other lottery games fill the drawer at The World Bar and Grill, in Delta, La., a few miles from the Mississippi-Louisiana state line. Lottery officials say two tickets have won the estimated $750 million Powerball jackpot. Powerball […]

Columbus, Ohio — Mustafa Shalash, of Hillard, Ohio, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of filing a false tax return with the IRS. Shalash was charged by bill of information on October 22, 2021.

According to court documents, in 2015 Shalash won $1,000,000 on a single lottery ticket. He received $710,000, and $290,000 was withheld in taxes. On his 2015 tax return, Shalash reported gambling winnings of $1,069,100 and falsely claimed gambling losses of $1,069,100. Shalash knew that his actual gambling losses were no more than $300,000. To conceal his gambling winnings, Shalash wired $690,000 abroad, including $440,000 to a bank account under his control in Jordan.

From 2014 through 2019, Shalash had as much as 409,000–645,803 Dinar, or approximately $576,077–$909,614, in a foreign bank account in Jordan. In addition to wiring lottery winnings abroad, Shalash accumulated money in foreign bank accounts by transporting more than $10,000 in funds across the U.S. border on multiple occasions. On July 8, 2015, Shalash purchased a $19,000 cashier’s check and then flew to Jordan, where he deposited the check into his Jordanian bank account. In April 2016, Shalash purchased two cashier’s checks for $15,000 and $25,000, then flew to Jordan, where he deposited them in his Jordanian bank account. In none of the cases did Shalash file the required Form 105, Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments. Before he knew he was being investigated, Shalash never filed, as required, a FinCen Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

On his 2015 tax return, Shalash also failed to disclose that he had a foreign bank account. Shalash reported to his return preparer that he did not have a foreign bank account. As a result of his overstating his gambling losses on his 2015 tax return, Shalash caused a tax loss of $255,967 to the IRS.

“Concealing bank accounts overseas and inflating losses on a tax return is a recipe for criminal tax prosecution,” said Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS, Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “IRS CI will continue to apply substantial resources towards and vigorously investigate criminal tax fraud.”

Filing a false income tax return carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine not to exceed $100,000.

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