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Man pleads guilty in IRS tax-fraud scheme

A Wyandanch man pleaded guilty Wednesday to helping run a tax-fraud scheme that cheated the Internal Revenue Service out of $600,000.

Patrick Zephirin, 45, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the federal government in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.

The scheme involved Zephirin and several associates, some living in Florida, filing 700 false income-tax returns that called for a total of $2 million in refunds between 2011 and 2013, according to Eastern District federal prosecutor Charles Kelly.

But not all of the requested refunds were paid out, since many listed the filers as living at the same address or wanting many of the refunds to go into the same bank account, according to court records.

Zephirin, who also lives in Haiti, traveled between Haiti and Long Island during the tax season to file the false returns, officials said.

The returns all were in the names of real residents who were not involved in the scheme; their identification information was used by the suspects.

A raid on the home of one of Zephirin's accused associates uncovered more than two dozen documents containing thousands of names with Social Security numbers and dates of birth, according to court records. Officials did not say how the information was obtained.

Zephirin's attorney, Kevin Keating of Garden City, declined to comment after his client's plea, as did prosecutor Kelly.

Zephirin faces up to 10 years in prison and he must return money taken in by the scheme when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler. He was held without bail as a flight risk.

Three of Zephirin's associates already have pleaded guilty in the case and await sentencing, officials said.

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