REPORT FROM THE US ATTORNEY-HAWAII – Big Island resident SHERILYN K. WAHINEKAPU, age 60, was arraigned and pled not guilty today in United States District Court to six counts of making a false claim against the United States. Wahinekapu was arrested by federal agents early this morning based on an indictment returned by a federal grand jury on April 12, 2012. Trial in this matter was set for June 13, 2012.
Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that according to indictment and in court documents, between July 2008 and February 2009, Wahinekapu filed six tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service, for tax years 2006 through 2008, each one claiming a false tax refund. The fraudulently claimed refund amounts ranged from $40,941 to $1,652,187. The total amount of false claims alleged in the indictment exceeds $2 million.
The indictment alleges Wahinekapu knew these refund totals were false and fraudulent because they were based on false and fictitious 1099-OID (Original Issue Discount) interest income amounts and false and fictitious income tax withholdings. United States Attorney Nakakuni said it is important that all persons who have a duty to file an income tax return complete it accurately and truthfully, without seeking refunds they know are not due to them. Individuals who choose to file fraudulent claims against the United States will be investigated and prosecuted.
Each count of making a false claim against the United States carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.00. The charges in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The criminal case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Johnson.