Former Council Staffer Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion

Newark man claimed phony exemptions and failed to file tax returns

A Newark man who worked as a chief of staff to a city councilman admitted Wednesday that he evaded income taxes by claiming scores of phony exemptions and failed to file an individual income tax return.

The plea before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark Federal Court, could put Richard Allen Whitten, 50, behind bars for up to five years and can carry a maximum fine of $250,000. Whitten will be sentenced on March 14, 2012.

Whitten worked for Newark Councilman Darrin Sharif from July 2006 to August 2008 and worked as a senior management assistant to the Newark Office of the Business Administrator from August 2008 to December 2009,  according to U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.

Whitten pleaded guilty to tax evasion for his fraudulent W-4 form and subsequent failure to file a federal tax return. According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Whitten admitted to failing to file tax returns for three other years.

In 2006, Whitten filed a W-4 form his employer, the City of Newark, falsely claiming 99 exemptions from federal income tax withholding. Whitten admitted he filed this fraudulent so that no federal income tax would be withheld from his paycheck. Whitten kept this form on file with the city through April 2008.

Whitten admitted he failed to pay any federal income tax for the 2006 calendar year. He further admitted that, in 2007, he received $55,991 in taxable income from the City of Newark and failed to pay more than $10,000 in federal income tax that was due.

In May 2008, Whitten filed a second fraudulent W-4 form with the City of Newark, again falsely claiming 99 exemptions from withholding in order to prevent the assessment of federal income taxes. Whitten admitted that in 2008 and 2009, he failed to pay any federal income tax for those calendar years.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation in Edison, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff, with the investigation leading to Wednesday’s guilty plea.

– Staff reports


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