CPA conviction for conspiracy and aiding filing of false returns affirmed

Cecilia Nysing

A federal appeals court in Boston has upheld the jury conviction of a CPA for filing a false tax return, despite the CPA’s claim that he relied on information provided by his client and his client’s bookkeeper.

The CPA, John Nardozzi, had over 40 years of experience. He provided tax preparation anad tax return filing services to Brian and Mary Joyce, and Joyce’s law firm, Brian A. Joyce, Attorney-at-Law. At the time, Brian Joyce was a Massachusetts state senator. Nardozzi was convicted by a jury on one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, and eight counts of aiding or assisting in the filing of a false tax return. The appeal was based primarily on the sufficiency of the evidence.

In December 2017, a federal grand jury indicted Joyce on 113 felony counts, including racketeering, extortion, fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the IRS. The indictment alleged that Joyce solicited payments from businesses in exchange for political favors, and falsely characterized those payments as legitimate legal fees paid to Joyce’s law firm. Joyce died in September 2018, before his case went to trial.

The word “Taxes” is seen on the facade of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

One month after Joyce was indicted, on Jan. 18, 2018, Nardozzi was indicted for his role in preparing and filing tax returns on behalf of the Joyces, and the Joyce law firm. At trial, Nardozzi’s counsel argued that Nardozzi relied on the information provided to him by Joyce’s bookkeepers, or by Joyce directly, and that he was “out of the loop” and did not act with criminal intent. However, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts. At sentencing, Nardozzi was ordered to pay restitution to the government of $598,363.

On appeal, Nardozzi argued that the government failed to introduce sufficient evidence that he knowingly conspired to defraud the United States or that he willfully aided or assisted Joyce in filing false tax returns. He also argued that the district court erred by failing to impose at the time of sentencing a specific schedule for the payment of restitution.

The First Circuit agreed with the jury, finding there was ample evidence in the record from which the jury could have concluded there was a conspiracy agreement between Joyce and Nardozzi. The court cited the legal principle that “a conspiracy may be based on a tacit agreement shown from an implicit working relationship.”

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