Tax Crime Junkies

Hey there, Tax Crime Junkies! For those of you who are new to our show, Tax Crime Junkies is the true crime podcast that combines our love of taxes and crime, and we’re here to bring you the inside scoop on some of the most fascinating tax-related cases out there. As tax experts and practitioners ourselves, Dom and Tom are uniquely qualified to uncover the most intricate details of these cases, and we’re not afraid to go deep. We know the ins and outs of the tax system, and we’re passionate about bringing our knowledge to you, our devoted listeners. From embezzlement and fraud to money laundering and more, we’ve covered some of the most shocking tax crimes out there. We’ve talked to experts, lawyers, and even some of the criminals themselves to get a better understanding of what drives people to commit these crimes and how they get away with it for so long. But we’re not just here to entertain you with tales of tax crime. We’re also dedicated to educating our listeners about the importance of proper tax compliance and helping business owners avoid making costly mistakes that could land them in hot water with the IRS. So whether you’re a true crime buff, a tax professional, or just someone who wants to learn more about the seedy underbelly of the tax world, Tax Crime Junkies has something for you. So keep tuning in, keep spreading the word, and keep those five-star reviews coming! Thanks for listening!

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Tuesday Nov 21, 2023

Episode Summary: In this gripping episode of "Tax Crime Junkies," hosts Dominique and Tom delve into a true crime story that intertwines tax evasion with a murder-for-hire plot. The episode focuses on Randy Nowak, a Florida-based carpentry contractor and antique car enthusiast, who finds himself in hot water with the IRS. When faced with an audit and the discovery of his hidden offshore millions, Randy panics and spirals down a dark path.
Key Highlights:
The American Dream Turned Nightmare:
Randy Nowak, a family man and business owner, faces an IRS audit.
His failure to file certain forms and pay payroll taxes leads to severe penalties and potential jail time.
A major twist reveals Randy's millions hidden in an offshore account.
A Desperate Plan:
Randy seeks help from his business associate, Walter McGhee, rumored to have connections with the Outlaws motorcycle gang.
Believing his situation to be dire, Randy contemplates hiring a hitman to eliminate his IRS auditor, Christine Brandt.
Undercover Operations and the Hitman “Reaper”:
Walter, alarmed by Randy's proposition, cooperates with authorities, leading to an undercover investigation.
An FBI agent, posing as hitman "Reaper," engages with Randy, who provides detailed information for the planned assassination.
The Downfall:
Randy's plot unravels as he's arrested while attempting to pay the second installment to "Reaper."
At trial, Randy's defense crumbles, revealing a lack of remorse and a focus on his financial losses over the gravity of his actions.
A Tragic End:
Randy is convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison, where he maintains his innocence until his death.
Closing Thoughts: Dominique and Tom reflect on the absurdity and dangers of attempting to evade the law, especially when it involves federal agencies like the IRS. They emphasize the importance of ethical conduct and the severe consequences of letting greed cloud judgment.
Next Episode Tease: Join us next week as we interview a former IRS collections officer who knew Christine Brandt the target of Randy Nowak's murder plot.  

Wednesday Nov 08, 2023

Show Notes:
Hosts Dominique and Tom introduce the episode's theme, focusing on a sophisticated scam targeting homeowners.
The hosts discuss the allure of easy money:, describing how the scam preyed on new homeowners with the promise of a secret escrow account leading to large tax refunds.
Unpacking the Scam:
The mechanics of the scam are explained, highlighting how the fraudulent scheme involved amending tax returns and fabricating financial documents.
The Players:
Introduction of the key figures behind the scam: Iran Backstrom, Arthur Daniels (aliases Shariyf Noble and Mehef Bey), Aaron Aqueron, and Yomari Febres.
The Scheme in Action:
Detailed breakdown of how the scam was executed, including the preparation of false tax forms and the illicit recruitment of clients.
Victims and Windfalls:
Discussion of the impact on victims who received large refunds, and the subsequent challenges they faced when the IRS began investigations.
Legal Repercussions:
Exploration of the legal fallout for the scammers, including indictments and convictions.
Closing Thoughts:
The hosts reflect on the importance of skepticism in financial matters and the dangers of too-good-to-be-true schemes.
Final Advice:
Reminder to listeners to always consult with reputable professionals in financial and tax matters.
A sneak peek at next week's episode, continuing the journey into the world of tax crimes and financial fraud.
Hosts: Dominique Molina and Tom Gorczynski
Music: Vizon 
Remember to subscribe for more episodes and share with friends who might find this topic intriguing!

Thursday Oct 19, 2023

Show Notes: Tax Crime Junkies Episode - "The Vegan Vixen and the Vegas Vanishing Act" (Part 2 - Continuation)
In the thrilling conclusion of our episode on Sarma Melngailis, we delve even deeper into the shocking aftermath of her fall from grace and the complex web of deceit spun by her husband, Anthony Strangis.
The Legal Consequences:
Sarma and Anthony faced serious charges, including grand larceny, tax fraud, and labor violations, with a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years if convicted.
Sarma was offered a plea deal that would entail up to three years in prison if she pleaded guilty to the top charge of second-degree grand larceny.
Anthony Strangis received a one to three-year prison sentence but was released after serving a year and three days. He was ordered to pay back the funds to investors and serve five years of probation.
A Troubled Relationship:
During Sarma's trial, it was revealed that she had an affair with her high-profile defense attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, who previously represented El Chapo.
The affair spanned from February 2017 to May 2018, and X-rated messages exchanged during this time were later acquired by the New York Post.
Sarma's Path to Redemption:
Sarma Melngailis eventually pleaded guilty to grand larceny, tax fraud, and conspiring to defraud, admitting to stealing $1 million from her shuttered restaurant, Pure Food and Wine.
She received five years of probation following four months of incarceration on Rikers Island.
Sarma has been diligently working to pay off her debts, including using the earnings from selling the rights to her story in the Netflix documentary "Bad Vegan" to pay her former employees.
A Glimpse into Sarma's Life Today:
Sarma filed for divorce from Anthony Strangis in May 2018 and launched a personal website, "Sarma Raw," where she shares her story.
As of January 2019, she was living in Harlem with her dog Leon, enjoying a quieter life.
She expressed her desire to reopen her vegan restaurant if given the opportunity, as she still believes New York would welcome her back.
Sarma's Comeback Attempt:
In a surprising twist, Sarma is reportedly making a sensational comeback attempt by trying to reopen her former restaurant, Pure Food and Wine.
She has been considering various ways to repair the damage caused by her past actions and debts.
Sarma's story is one of redemption, resilience, and the pursuit of a second chance in the culinary world.
We invite you to share your thoughts on Sarma's journey and whether you believe she should make a comeback. Let us know in the comments.
Join us again next week as we continue our mission to uncover the loopholes and close them for good in the world of tax crime. Remember, every crime leaves a trail that leads to the truth!
Audio Credit: Bad Vegan, Netflix

Monday Oct 02, 2023

In this gripping episode of Tax Crime Junkies, dive deep into the whirlwind world of Sarma Melngailis, the culinary genius behind New York City's famed vegan restaurant, "Pure Food and Wine." From her meteoric rise in the culinary world to her unexpected entanglement with the enigmatic Anthony Strangis, discover how ambition, love, and deception can intertwine in the most unexpected ways. As financial mysteries unravel and personal betrayals come to light, join hosts Dominique and Tom as they uncover the truth behind the headlines. What led to the sudden closure of a celebrity hotspot? How did a Domino's Pizza order become the unexpected twist in this tale? Tune in to find out!
Show Notes:
00:00 - Introduction to the episode and hosts Dominique and Tom.
02:15 - The allure of "Pure Food and Wine" and its impact on NYC's culinary scene.
05:30 - Sarma Melngailis: The woman behind the brand.
09:45 - The unexpected entry of Anthony Strangis (aka Shane Fox) into Sarma's life.
15:20 - The financial intricacies and challenges faced by the restaurant.
20:00 - The psychological manipulation and the promises of immortality.
25:40 - The unraveling of the financial web: From missing funds to unpaid employees.
30:15 - The sudden disappearance of Sarma and Anthony.
35:00 - The Domino's Pizza order that changed everything.
38:30 - Closing thoughts and a teaser for the next episode.
Stay connected with Tax Crime Junkies:
Instagram: @taxcrimejunkies
Twitter: @taxcrimejunkies_podcast
Recommended Resources:
Documentary on Sarma Melngailis and Anthony Strangis.
Forbes magazine's "All Star New York Eateries" list.
Well and Good interview with Sarma Melngailis.
Support the Show: If you enjoyed this episode, please consider subscribing, leaving a review, and sharing with a friend! Your support helps us bring more intriguing tax crime stories to light.

Thursday Sep 07, 2023

Episode Title: Desperate Deals: The Rise and Fall of a King and His Tax Castle
Episode Summary:
In this gripping episode of Tax Crime Junkies, hosts Dom and Tom delve into the shocking true story of King Isaac Umoren, a tax preparer turned criminal mastermind. From impersonating an FBI agent to selling a fraudulent tax business, Umoren's tale is a cautionary one, filled with deceit, audacity, and a web of lies that ensnared not just him but also his employees and clients.
What You'll Learn:
How King Isaac Umoren used his tax preparation business as a front for multiple fraudulent schemes.
The emotional and financial toll on the victims, including the staff and the new owners of the fraudulent business.
The legal consequences Umoren faced, including 18 charges related to the fraudulent business sale.
Insights into the IRS investigation and the patterns of fraud detected.
Key Moments:
Introduction (00:00-03:00): Dominique and Tom set the stage with a relatable problem—clients failing to pay for services—and introduce the main story.
The Impersonation Act (03:01-08:00): The hosts describe Umoren's audacious impersonation of an FBI agent and how it led to his initial arrest.
The Fraudulent Business Sale (08:01-15:00): Learn how Umoren sold his tax business based on inflated values and fraudulent documents, fooling the new owners.
The Human Toll (15:01-20:00): Dominique and Tom discuss the impact of Umoren's actions on his employees, who were left jobless and financially strained.
The Legal Consequences (20:01-25:00): The hosts delve into the charges Umoren faced and how his actions caught up with him.
IRS Investigation (25:01-30:00): Tom explains the IRS's role in uncovering the fraudulent activities within the tax preparation business.
The Downfall (30:01-35:00): The story comes full circle, reflecting on the broader implications of unchecked ambition and deceit.
Conclusion and Teaser for Next Episode (35:01-36:00): The hosts wrap up the episode and tease what's coming up next on Tax Crime Junkies.
Subscribe & Share:
If you enjoyed this episode, please consider subscribing and sharing it with friends who could use a tax crime junky podcast in their life. Help us spread the word and come back for more!
Legal Disclaimer:
This podcast is for entertainment purposes only. All facts are sourced from public records or similar, and the episode is not intended to defame or misrepresent anyone involved.
Next Episode:
Stay tuned for our next episode, where we'll bring you more stories of tax and financial crimes—and how to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.  We'll be starting a 2 part series on How Sarma Melngailis, Queen of Vegan Cuisine, Became a Runaway Tax Fugitive 

Wednesday Aug 09, 2023

Key Takeaways:
The Facade of Luxury: Michael Banuelos, aka Ferrari Mike, portrayed a life of luxury, but it was all built on lies.
A Web of Deceit: Michael's scams ranged from fake concert tours to counterfeit documentation, defrauding investors of over $2 million.
A Shocking Past: Michael's criminal activities date back to his time as a deputy sheriff in Los Angeles.
The Victims: From aspiring artists to seasoned investors, many were ensnared in Michael's web of deceit.
Facing the Music: The evidence against Michael was overwhelming, leading to a recommended 63-month prison sentence.
Connect with Us:
Instagram: @TaxCrimeJunkies
Leave a Review: If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Your feedback helps us bring more intriguing stories to you.
Disclaimer: All information in this episode is based on publicly available data and is intended for entertainment purposes only. Always consult with a professional before taking any action based on the content of this podcast.

Tuesday Aug 01, 2023

In this episode, Dominique and Tom dive into the multi million dollar music fraud scheme of Michael Banuelos, better known as Ferrari Mike. From 2005 to 2012, Mike swindled nearly 3 million dollars out of multiple investors all while living the high life off of their hard earned money. He makes himself out to be a big shot with impressive connections to top recording artists like Ludacris, Usher and Chris Brown. He even produces a fake video of his home on MTV Cribs to convince people of how strong his connections are. By preying on the dreams of aspiring musicians and investors interested in their careers, he uses forged documents from major recording label Def Jam Records to convince people to give him hundreds of thousands of dollars. But all is not as it seems with Ferrari Mike. He may look like a real VIP with his luxurious lifestyle, but he had not truly earned a single cent of it. In fact, he had not done an honest day's work since 1997. 
Talking Points:
Who is Ferrari Mike?
From 2005 to 2012 Mike swindles multiple groups of people out of millions
Mike claims he has professional connections to Ludacris and Def Jam Records
Musician Four Eyes’ testimony about his relationship with Ferrari Mike
Mike produces a video and fakes that his own home is being featured in an episode of MTV Cribs
Mike’s victims include The Vern L and Ty T Investor Groups, and the musical duo Highlife
Mike forges documents from a major recording label and the employee whose name was forged ends up committing suicide. Mike uses this as an excuse to explain why the deal wasn’t able to be finalized.
In February 2009, Mike claims Chris Brown can’t meet with Ty T because of the legal troubles with his domestic violence charge against Rihanna
Then, Mike offers Ty for Highlife to be the opening act for Usher’s tour if he just scrapes up an additional $10K. 
Gerald S. falls into Mike’s trap when he receives a memorandum of understanding dated October 9, 2008 between Def Jam Music Group and Michael. Memorandum claims Def Jam will pay 23 million dollars for the rights to HighLife’s performances. Gerald invests $100,000.
Between 2009 and 2010, Gerald poured even more money into Mike’s fraudulent deals including a $340,000 investment for the supposed deal with Sony who Mike claimed was offering $285 million for the rights to musician Brian White. 
In July 2012, Ferrari Mike was finally arrested.
Mike continues attempting to defraud people from prison claiming his arrest was a misunderstanding.
What did Mike do with all that money?
Mike did not have an honest job since being a deputy in 1997.
Find out the shocking truth behind this master manipulator and his devastating impact on the lives of aspiring artists in Part 2!
Podcast production and show notes provided by

Tuesday Jul 25, 2023

In this episode, Dom & Tom discuss the case of Ralph Baldenegro, a former firefighter and current inmate, who took over two decades to solve. Baldenegro, a 42-year-old former firefighter, worked as security for the firm and had left the Santa Clara Fire Department in disgrace a few years earlier after an assault conviction and dismissal. The podcast explores the circumstances that led Baldenegro to turn from a protector to a perpetrator, and how DNA linked him to the brutal murder scene at Bucalo's South Meridian Avenue cottage.
The podcast also touches on the complexities of the tax and legal system and the lessons learned from the case. Baldenegro was charged with special-circumstances murder, attempted rape, and burglary, but it took over two decades to bring charges for Julie's murder.
The case began with Julie's boyfriend, Jim Kent, who was the last person to see her alive. Kent called the local flooring store to check on Bucalo, but his calls went unanswered. On Monday, Kent called the local flooring store to check on Bucalo, but the house remained silent. Kent and his friend Nick called the police, and they found Bucalo's home eerily silent. The police arrived, and the case remained for nearly 20 years. Baldenegro's arrival was not a complete surprise, as they had a friendly conversation at work. The podcast highlights the importance of understanding the complexities of the tax and legal system and the importance of pursuing justice when faced with a tragic case.
The story revolves around the crimes of Ralph Baldenegro, who was known for stalking and assaulting women. Baldenegro was arrested and his DNA was obtained, but he pleaded not guilty to the charges related to Julie Bucalo's case. The case also involved two other heroines, Linda A and DM, who reported being raped and assaulted by Baldenegro. The police found a pattern of using handcuffs, duct tape, and weapons like knives. Despite his weaponry, Baldenegro pleaded not guilty to the charges related to Julie Bucalo's case, and his lawyer called the prosecution a waste of judicial resources.
The story also touches on the experiences of other heroines, such as Janet P, who claimed that Baldenegro pinned her to the bed after accusing her of infidelity in 1982 and slapping her and strangling her. Sarah Griffith, once a girlfriend of Baldenegro, claimed that he assaulted her multiple times in 1984, and these incidents bore chilling similarities to his attack on Julie Bucalo. Baldenegro denied assaulting, binding, and raping Sarah G., and when interviewed, Baldenegro claimed the two were a couple and that Sarah G wanted to have his baby.
The hearsay rule against hearsay evidence protects constitutional rights, as it can affect someone's right to a fair trial, support the due process rights of defendants, and allow the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses. However, allowing hearsay without limitation would undermine this right, making it difficult to obtain evidence that happened outside of court to prove a case. Hearsay evidence can be admitted if it falls under certain exceptions, such as presenting motive or showing a pattern in the defendant's behavior. This exception allows for the use of hearsay evidence to show someone's state of mind at the time, as seen in the case of Julie Bucalo.
The justice system's handling of earlier assaults and the benefits of DNA evidence in cold cases are discussed. The jury found Ralph Baldenegro, 64, guilty of the 1991 slaying of the 26-year-old San Jose accountant, and he will spend the rest of his life in prison. The CHP chased Baldenegro for about a half-hour, and he eventually surrendered and his son was found unharmed. The episode highlights the importance of thorough investigation, especially DNA testing, safety measures, and justice, even in delayed cases. The episode also emphasizes the importance of perseverance and the need for continuous improvement in the justice system.

Tuesday Jul 18, 2023

Trigger WARNING: This episode contains discussions of extreme acts of violence with guns in the workplace.  Listeners take care.  
While some people are able to receive constructive criticism and move on, others can obsess on what they see as a failure, and when they blame their boss, co-workers, or even just the person that does the firing.
This is the story of Anthony LaCalamita, who, after being fired during tax season, plotted the worst revenge possible against his co-workers and boss at the accounting firm where he worked.  

Tuesday Jun 20, 2023

In this episode, Tax Pros Dominique and Tom discuss the recent case of billionaire Russian bank magnate Oleg Tinkov, who pleaded guilty to tax fraud and agreed to pay over $500 million for misrepresenting his net worth on a tax form. Join us as we delve into the details of the case and offer tips and advice to help listeners avoid making similar mistakes when it comes to taxes.
Key takeaways:
The importance of being honest and accurate when reporting your net worth and income on tax forms
Understanding the tax laws and regulations that apply to you, especially if you are a high-net worth individual or a U.S. citizen living abroad
The consequences of tax fraud, which can include significant fines, penalties, and even prison time
The importance of seeking professional help and advice when it comes to tax planning and compliance
This episode provides valuable insights and practical tips for anyone looking to ensure they are in compliance with tax laws and regulations and avoid any potential legal trouble. Tune in now! 


Meet the Tax Crime Junkies!

Dominique Molina is a CPA,  speaker and teacher, leader of the American Institute of Certified Tax Planners, has a law degree and a real interest in true crime.  


Tom Gorczynski is an EA, speaker and teacher, and admitted to practice in Federal Tax Court (USTCP).  One might say Tom has an amateur education in avoiding murder from his love of true crime.


We decided to combine our love of tax and crime to bring you stories of greed, envy, and just plain stupidity in the creation of Tax Crime Junkies.  Join us each week as we bring you more tales of white collar crime and the loopholes that went left.

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