Unted States v. Berkowitz, No. 13-1349 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
The Berkowitz family has a history of IRS problems. Yair began participating in his father’s schemes in 1999, acquiring the information of dead people and federal prisoners to prepare fraudulent tax returns. Between 2003 and 2009, 58 individuals received refund checks in a conspiracy that involved more than 3,000 false state and federal tax returns. Yair received tax returns from Marvin in Israel, mailed the returns from various U.S. postal codes to avoid IRS suspicion, and controlled accounts where proceeds were deposited. When refund checks issued, Yair traveled to pick them up and made payments to co‐conspirators. In 2006, IRS agents told Yair that money he received from Marvin was obtained by fraud. Yair denied knowledge of the scheme. He began to reduce his direct involvement, but continued to receive money from the scheme and met with an undercover IRS agent about expanding the fraud. The scheme was uncovered. Yair, Marvin, and others were charged with conspiracy to defraud the IRS, wire fraud, and mail fraud. Yair pleaded guilty only to wire fraud based on a 2006 PayPal transfer of $250. At sentencing, the district court followed the Presentence Report’s recommendation and ordered Yair to pay more than $4 million in restitution along with his prison sentence; his liability was joint and several with his co‐defendants. The Seventh Circuit found the award appropriate and affirmed.