AKRON — A Hudson man was exonerated in federal court Thursday on allegations that he filed false income tax returns for clients of his accounting firm between 2013 and 2015.
John Little, law clerk for Judge John Adams, said that a jury acquitted 44-year-old Sergio Gardea of all 21 counts of aiding and abetting false tax returns that Gardea still faced.
A federal grand jury indicted Sergio with 30 counts last September, but Little said the government voluntarily dismissed the additional counts before the trial ended earlier this week.
Gardea, owner of SGO Accounting and Tax Services, has offices in Akron and Canton.
"I am extremely grateful to my attorney, Mr. David M. Garvin, for his tenacity and brilliance. After almost five years of investigation by the IRS, Mr. Garvin proved my innocence," Gardea said.
Garvin is a criminal tax attorney and CPA with offices in Miami, Fla.
"He worked hard. During the home stretch he worked long hours for over 40 days without a day off. I am indebted to him for my liberty," Gardea said.
"I also want to thank my family, especially my wife and daughters, my friends and the community for their unwavering support," Gardea said. "Judge John Adams ensured I got a fair trial. He was tough, but fair through the entire process. I thank the jury for their attention during a difficult and lengthy trial."
According to the indictment, Gardea's tax preparation business is located in Canton at The Centro San Jose, which provides social services for hispanic people, while his Akron office is in a "strip mall." SGO's tax preparation clientele is primarily Spanish speaking workers and immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala who mostly worked on farms and in farm-related factories in and around Stark County, the indictment says. The indictment alleged that SGO filed tax returns claiming child tax credits for individuals who were not entitled to the credits because their dependents were not living in the United States for much of the year.
Alleged fraudulent refunds claimed as a result of this totaled more than $125,000, according to the indictment.