SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A tax preparer from La Mesa was sentenced Friday to 11 years in prison for his conviction on nearly three dozen counts of filing false claims, identity theft, Social Security fraud and witness tampering.
Saleh Mahmoud Zahran, 50, was convicted of 32 felonies last month at the end of a two-week trial in U.S. District Court in San Diego.
During sentencing, federal Judge Dana Sabraw noted that Zahran was a college-educated, state-licensed tax professional whose background and experience gave him the opportunity to help San Diego's Arabic-speaking community with its federal tax matters.
Instead, Zahran used his skills to gain money illicitly for many years, Sabraw said.
According to evidence introduced at trial, Zahran filed 40 fraudulent federal income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service, receiving over $81,000 in illicit refunds, and evaded more than $245,000 in federal income tax for 1997 through 2004.
Zahran also held bank accounts and property under false names and fraudulently obtained Social Security numbers, filed false income tax returns that grossly understated income and lied to the IRS about his income and assets, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Zahran obtained Social Security numbers for false identities for himself, as well as his wife, mother, sister and children, prosecutors alleged, and used the names and identifying information of several of his clients' minor children as well as the business names and employer identification numbers of his customers' businesses without their knowledge or consent.
Zahran also was convicted of filing a fraudulent application to obtain medical care under Medi-Cal for 2002, falsely stating that he earned less than $1,000 per month, had only two bank accounts with a cumulative balance of approximately $2,000 and owned no real property.
A restitution hearing to determine the amounts to be paid to the IRS and state welfare agencies in the case is scheduled for April 29.
Day 2 of The Susan G. Komen 3-Day, a 60-mile walk to support breast cancer research and programs starts up again Saturday. Walkers will continue their journey through Ocean Beach, Mission Bay Park, Tecolote Shores and De Anza Cove Park.
Residents of Malibu forced to evacuate because of the Woolsey Fire were returning to their homes on Saturday and getting some vital services back, as firefighters battled the huge blaze for a 10th day.
Weak onshore flow returns late Friday morning. Inland areas will remain dry but with light winds. Morning fog possible Saturday morning as marine layer returns.
Cool weather helped fire crews gain ground Thursday against the nation's deadliest wildfire in a century, as the search went on for more bodies. At least 56 people were killed and 300 were unaccounted for a week after the flames swept through.
A man died after being found with a gunshot wound at a park in Mountain View early Saturday morning, police said.
A man was injured when he was shot while standing on a street corner in Lincoln Park early Saturday, police said.
Police are asking for the public's help in locating an elderly woman who went missing from her son's Mira Mesa home.
A power outage in central San Diego affecting over 2,200 homes in University Heights, North Park, Normal Heights, Kensington, Talmadge, and West State College was reported early Saturday morning just after 7:00 a.m.
The Dewey Elementary School, which serves a large number of military families, on Friday put out a call for donations as their Winter Wonderland Fundraiser fast approaches.
Argentina's navy announced early Saturday that searchers found the missing submarine ARA San Juan deep in the Atlantic a year after it disappeared with 44 crewmen aboard.