Owner of 16 assisted living facilities obstructed IRS, government says

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The owner of 16 assisted living facilities in Michigan, previously indicted in October, now is accused of obstructing internal revenue laws and failing to file his individual tax returns for 2013 through 2015 in a timely manner.

The new indictment against Jeremiah Cheff, which supersedes the other one, was returned Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division.

Cheff previously was indicted on 60 counts of failing to collect, account for and pay employment taxes. That indictment alleged that from September 2010 through September 2014, he withheld payroll taxes — federal income, Medicare and Social Security taxes — from the paychecks of employees who worked at the adult foster homes he owned with his wife but did not file timely file employment tax returns and did not pay the funds that had been withheld to the Internal Revenue Service.

The new indictment adds four counts to the previous ones.

According to the document, after the IRS informed Cheff that it was going to file a lien to collect unpaid employment taxes, he sent a bogus check for $80,000 to the IRS and falsely told a revenue officer that he had paid the taxes.

Cheff also allegedly spent money from his businesses for personal benefit instead of paying it to the IRS, erroneously classified his employees as independent contractors, provided incorrect information to his return preparer and filed false partnership returns for one of the facilities from 2013 through 2015.

If convicted, Cheff faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for each of the 60 employment tax counts, three years in prison for obstructing the IRS and one year in prison for each of the failure to file counts. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.

Cheff's wife, Nicolette, was not charged in the new indictment, although she had been charged in the first one.

Jeremiah Cheff previously told the Oakland Press that he hadn't been able to make his tax payments due to the housing crisis but that he used the money he kept to operate the businesses, not to cover personal expenses. He also said he paid a tax relief firm $30,000 to help him, but “they didn't do their job.”

Cheff told the newspaper that he is working with the IRS and his attorneys to resolve the tax issues and make changes to ensure that mistakes aren't repeated.

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