Skip to main content

Minnesota couple plead guilty to massive tax fraud scheme

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

A Prior Lake couple has pleaded guilty to charges of stealing $1.8 million in a wide-ranging fraud scheme that involved them filing false tax returns in the names of hundreds of people – many of them immigrants.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger announced Tuesday that Mark Hammerschmidt, 48, and his wife Ornella Hammerschmidt, 36, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax fraud charges in federal court in Minneapolis.

The Hammerschmidts owned a tax preparation and immigration services business, American Group, that operated in Shakopee and Florida. Between 2010 and 2013, they used the business to prepare and file more than 1,000 false income tax returns on behalf of their tax and immigration clients.

According to the U.S. attorney, the two obtained the personal identification information of immigrant clients, including Guatemalan citizens; used the information to get taxpayer identification numbers for those individuals; then filed multiple years’ worth of false tax returns in those individuals’ names, seeking refunds based on false household income, false dependents and false education credits.

The tax refunds were deposited into bank accounts controlled by the Hammerschmidts, who then kept a portion of the money and paid the rest to their clients.

The Hammerschmidts also filed false Minnesota state income tax returns using the same scheme, according to the U.S. attorney.

The Star Tribune reports that Mark Hammerschmidt faces up to nine years in prison, and his wife Ornella faces up to 21 months in prison. They have agreed to pay restitution of more than $1.8 million to the victims.

The paper notes they could still be charged in Florida or other jurisdictions in connection with the scheme.

Next Up

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

The biggest personnel decisions facing the new GM

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has some tricky personnel decisions coming up in the near future

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

What to know about new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

The former Wall Street trader is an analytics guru who appreciates collaboration.

metro transit southwest light rail green line extension construction

Southwest LRT may cost $210M more, take 3 years longer to build

The Met Council is proposing a settlement with one of its contractors due to disputes over construction changes.

Rick Spielman

Spielman: 'That head coach has to have a relationship with that QB'

"I think the No. 1 thing you’re looking for is that head coach has to have a relationship with that quarterback."

Screen Shot 2022-01-26 at 6.36.25 AM

Gallery: France 44 to build two-story addition, rooftop patio

The Minneapolis liquor store and cheese shop is stepping up its events and class offerings.

2019_1229_Bears_Home_0831

Ryan Poles picking Chicago creates battle of the rebuilds with Vikings

Both of the Vikings' GM finalists land in the same division looking to return to relevancy.

David Ortiz

Twins congratulate David Ortiz on HOF induction, it ends badly

Twins fans haven't forgotten the biggest mistake in franchise history.

benton county snowmobile jan 2022 crop

Who left the burnt snowmobile on a frozen Minnesota lake?

There wasn't much left beyond the frame and a few other large, metal parts.

T Kline Robbinsdale City Council

Charges: Drunk council member fled police on wrong side of Hwy. 100

The complaint alleges he caused a wrong-way crash, then drove around an officer that tried to stop him.

Related

Twin Cities man pleads guilty in $20M mortgage fraud scheme

A Chanhassen man has become the third person to plead guilty in a $20 million mortgage fraud scheme that involved 57 properties. Douglas Rex Butler faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of fraud.

Stock market chart

Ex-council member pleads guilty to stock manipulation scheme

Mark Allen Miller pleaded guilty alongside one other man to conspiracy to commit security fraud in U.S. District Court.