Va. couple pleads guilty in Md. auto body shop tax case

An Alexandria, Virginia, couple plead guilty to conspiracy charges related to tax fraud in taxes filed for their Maryland auto body shop.

The Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office statement said that Ercin Kalender, 60, and his wife Lizette, 44, cheated the IRS out of $2.2 million.

Together, the couple ran Butch’s Auto Body Shop in Capitol Heights, Maryland. Ercin ran the popular auto body shop, and Lizette kept the books.

The scheme unraveled when the couple tried to sell the shop in 2018.

According to an IRS-CI  investigation, the Kalenders kept two sets of books and bragged about them to an undercover agent posing as a person who wanted to buy the business.

During the discussion, authorities say the couple pointed out the millions hidden from the IRS by asking to be paid by check. They then cashed those checks at an unnamed third location.

The money from those cashed checks were not reported, and, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, those checks sometimes totaled between $50,000 and $60,000.

“This system of paying employees in cash deprived the State of Maryland of tax revenue and subverted the taxation systems of the IRS and Maryland,” the statement said.

The U.S. Attorney in Baltimore says the couple misled the IRS on their taxes in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. Additionally, the IRS said the couple underreported more than $6.6 million. That resulted in a tax loss of $2,219,602. Moreover, authorities said that the Kalenders significantly lowered the reports of their gross and taxable incomes over time.

The Kalenders now have to pay back the $2.2. million owed to the IRS and face up to five years in prison. The couple also faces three years of supervised probation.

Sentencing is scheduled for May.

Del Walters

Del Walters is an award-winning investigative reporter, filmmaker and author.

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