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California Briefing / LOS ANGELES

3 men plead guilty to lying to IRS

July 31, 2008|Jean Merl

Three men have pleaded guilty to making false statements to Internal Revenue Service agents during an investigation and face up to five years in prison and a minimum fine of $250,000 each, a local IRS official said Wednesday.

Benhour Hatanian, Tsion Hatanian and Nissan Golshirazian recently entered pleas in federal court in Los Angeles, said Debra D. King, special agent in charge for the Los Angeles Field Office, IRS Criminal Investigation.

According to their signed guilty pleas, the men admitted they had falsely told IRS agents that they had not given U.S. currency to an individual to place in a foreign bank account. In fact, the Hatanians later said, they had given a person, publicly identified only as "JG," $569,430 to deposit in some relatives' bank account in Israel. Golshirazian admitted that he and his brother had given about $331,000 to the same person, for deposits to bank accounts in Switzerland and Israel.

Sentencing for Benhour Hatanian is scheduled for Oct. 13; sentencings for Golshirazian and Tsion Hatanian are set for Nov. 3 and Nov. 10, respectively.

"IRS special agents rely on the truthfulness of statements made by individuals during the course of an investigation," King said in a news release, "and those individuals who consciously choose to mislead" investigators risk prosecution.

-- Jean Merl

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