Today’s news:

Ridgewood tax biz owner tried to steal refunds: DA

Tommasina Paolino, of 70-06 69th Place in Glendale, was charged Friday before Queens Criminal Court Judge Gene Lopez with grand larceny, identity theft, offering a false instrument for filing, falsifying business records, possession of a forged instrument and related tax charges, Queens DA Richard Brown said. If convicted, she could face up to 25 years in prison, the DA said."By purposefully defrauding New York government of such a significant sum of revenue, money that could have been used for any number of valuable public purposes, the defendant is alleged to have made every New Yorker a victim," Brown said.Paolino, who was held on $500,000 bail, will return to court on April 3, Brown said.The defendant attempted to collect nearly $4 million in state tax refunds between May 16, 2005 and April 15, 2007 through her business Titan Enterprises, a tax preparation business located at 68-51 Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood, the DA said. She actually received $1.8 million before the state's Tax Department discovered her alleged scheme during the processing of the returns, Brown said.Paolino is accused of using the Social Security numbers and credit card information of a number of taxpayers to fraudulently prepare and file 36 tax returns for the tax years 2003 through 2006, the DA said. During that period of time, she falsely claimed investment tax credits, ranging from $13,863 to $160,811, designed for the financial services industry.The tax returns allegedly identified Paolino as a "third party designee," referring to the person other than the taxpayer who is to be contacted to answer questions about the returns, Brown said. The listed addresses of the taxpayers included Paolino's business address, as well as her present and former residences.Search warrants were executed on March 19 at the defendant's business and residence, where police and state Tax Department investigators recovered several computers, business records, a checkbook, a credit card in the name of a grocery store employee whom Paolino allegedly defrauded and $17,000 in cash, Brown said.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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