An Alexandria couple pleaded guilty to conspiracy in relation to filing false tax claims for their Maryland-based auto body repair shop, and have been ordered to pay $2.2 million in restitution.
Ercin Kalender, 60, and Lizette Kalender, 44, own Butch’s Auto Body in Capital Heights, and were ordered to pay the $2.2 million as part of their plea agreement, according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Between 2015 and 2018, the Kalenders kept two sets of books — one set with actual revenues, and another with lower reports of taxable income that were sent to the Internal Revenue Service.
“The corresponding tax loss to the IRS for the four years was $2,219,602,” DOJ said in a release.
The couple, who were trying to sell the shop in 2018, were busted in a sting operation in 2018. An undercover federal agent posed as a potential buyer and both Ercin and Lizette Kalender revealed a longstanding practice of underreporting revenue and income.
“Further, Ercin explained that while Butch’s filed tax returns showed $2.2 million in gross receipts, the actual gross receipts were closer to $3.1, $4.2, and $3.9 million for the fiscal years for 2015, 2016, and 2017; respectively,” according to DOJ. “Ercin also informed the agent that Lizette also reported sizable W-2 income, which helped them evade scrutiny by the IRS… In 2019, after the Kalenders became aware of the IRS’s investigation, Butch’s reported gross receipts of more than $4.5 million, an increase of more than $2.2 million over the fiscal year 2018,”
Additionally, the couple paid a portion of their employees in cash and falsely reported wages to the IRS.
“In a conversation with the undercover agent, Ercin stated that he paid all his employees’ extra compensation in cash to avoid tax obligations except for one secretary who was not paid under the table,” DOJ reported.
The couple go to court for sentencing on May 26 and face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and three years of supervised release.
Alexandria Police are looking for a man who bought a luxury car with a fake driver’s license at Lindsay Lexus of Alexandria.
On August 29, the suspect walked into the dealership and picked out a 2021 Lexus LS400 and provided the salesperson with an Oklahoma driver’s license, according to police. The customer also allegedly told the salesperson that he’d recently relocated from Oklahoma to Richmond.
“The customer provided insurance document(ation) issued by AAA Insurance listing his current residence in Richmond,” police said in a search warrant. “The dealership completed a credit history check using identification for (the victim) and approved the customer for financing to complete the purchase.”
Police added, “The customer purchased the vehicle and drove the vehicle off the dealership’s parking lot.”
The next day, August 30, an Oklahoma man called the dealership asking about a credit check that was made the day before in his name. The man said he didn’t buy a car at Lindsay Lexus of Alexandria and sent along a photo of his driver’s license. The photos didn’t match, as the victim is an older white male and the suspect is a Black male.
The vehicle was later recovered in Henrico, Virginia, and returned to the dealership.
The suspect has not been arrested.
A 31-year-old Fairfax County man was arrested for credit card theft and fraud last month after allegedly finding a wallet in the parking lot of the Bradlee Shopping Center and going on a spending spree.
On May 24, the male victim reported to police that he was the victim of fraud after losing his wallet in the parking lot. He said that someone made $423.99 and $1,097 purchases at a Target store in Falls Church, and then $314.96 at a T-Mobile store at 247 S. Van Dorn Street.
Police went to both the Target and T-Mobile stores and saw surveillance footage of the suspect buying numerous products and then driving away in a blue Honda Accord, according to a search warrant affidavit. They then looked up the car’s license plate number and saw that the car belonged to the suspect’s wife.
Police called the suspect’s wife, who provided them with her husband’s phone number, according to the affidavit.
The suspect was arrested on August 8 and charged with credit card theft and credit card fraud. He was released on bond the same day.
Alexandria Police are investigating the scamming theft of more than $15,000 from a woman who says she believed she was applying for a Community Services Block Grant.
The victim reported that she was contacted by a Facebook friend on July 24, and was unaware that her friend’s profile was compromised. The supposed friend told the victim that she was eligible for a $100,000 CSBG grant, and then referred her to a grant agent named Thomas Johnson, police said in a search warrant affidavit.
“The agent then required (the victim) to purchase numerous gift cards from Apple and eBay to complete the grant transaction on numerous occasions between July 24, 2021, and August 4, 2021,” police said in a search warrant.
The victim ended up buying $12,900 in Apple gift cards and $2,300 in eBay gift cards, police said.
On August 20, police tweeted about various methods scammers will use.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) August 20, 2021
The Alexandria Sheriff’s Office also recently warned residents about scammers, and victims are encouraged to report incidents to the police at 703-746-4444.
SCAM ALERT! If you get a call from someone saying they work for the Sheriff’s Office and that you have to pay money because of a warrant or any other reason, HANG UP! Real law enforcement agencies in Virginia will never call and demand money. https://t.co/ttDvQGooHN
— Alexandria Sheriff (@AlexVASheriff) August 23, 2021
Scott Shaw named Chamber’s 2021 Business Leader of the Year — “For the last six years, he has served as a partner of Alexandria Restaurant Partners (ARP). ARP operates nine restaurants including The Majestic and Theismann’s Restaurant… Outside of the restaurant industry, Shaw established Founders Hall and co-founded ALX Community. His community involvement includes serving as Chair of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. In this position… In 2017, Shaw founded the Tall Ship Providence Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving Alexandria’s rich maritime history through educational programs and entertainment.” [Zebra]
Rep. Beyer says he’s working on securing stormwater management funding for Alexandria — “I’m also working to secure more federal funding for storm and sewer projects in ALX in upcoming infrastructure legislation.” [Twitter]
Alexandria accountant pleads guilty to tax fraud — “An accountant from Alexandria pleaded guilty Wednesday for his role in filing false tax returns that led to over $250,000 in federal tax loss.” [Patch]
Recent T.C. Williams High School graduate dies at 18 — “Tommy Lacey was a towering figure. At 6 feet 5 inches tall, he was a gentle giant with a passion for sports and hanging out with friends at Al’s Steakhouse in Del Ray. A standout lacrosse player, the 2021 graduate of T.C. Williams High School was preparing to attend James Madison University in the fall when he died unexpectedly on Aug. 4.” [Gazette]
Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy. High 91F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph… Scattered thunderstorms during the evening becoming more widespread overnight. Low 72F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%.” [Weather.com]
New job: Crew member at Trader Joe’s — “If you have a passion for people and a fervor for food, we’d love to meet you. We can teach you the rest.” [Indeed]
Alexandria Police have identified a suspect allegedly responsible for the theft of two credit cards at the Get Air Trampoline Park at 340 S. Pickett Street in the West End.
An employee of the park, who has not been charged, admitted to police that he was working alone when he found two credit cards and then charged each $1,000 to his personal Cash App account.
The employee told police that on July 8 he found two credit cards that customers left behind, and then “used the credit cards to transfer money to his personal business Cash App/Square Inc. virtual wallet account,” according to a search warrant affidavit. “More specifically, (the suspect) stated that he manually entered the customers’ credit card numbers onto his Cash App/Square Inc. account using his personal cell phone.”
Both customers were initially charged less than $20 for their visits.
What an absorbing week in Alexandria.
Just as the ball gets rolling with reopening and loosened restrictions, the pandemic rears its ugly head. With coronavirus transmission levels climbing, Alexandria is once again recommending that residents go back to wearing face masks indoors.
Our weekly poll found that 37% of respondents (337 votes) don’t plan to wear masks indoors again unless required, 32% (291 votes) never stopped wearing masks and plan to continue, and 30% (275 votes) stopped wearing masks indoors and plan to start again.
In the meantime, Three Dog Night, Tanya Tucker, and more are scheduled to play at the Birchmere next month, and the Little Theatre of Alexandria has gone back to in-person performances with its latest farce, Neil Simon’s Rumors. The city’s annual sidewalk sale is also on track to be largest ever, with participation from more than 70 local boutiques on the pedestrian-only blocks between 700 and 1100 King Street.
Turning toward the Olympics, Alexandria boxer Troy Isley won his first contest earlier this week, but lost his second match in a close split decision on Thursday night. Next week, Alexandria City High School will host a watch party for alumnus star sprinter Noah Lyles, who is the favorite to win the gold medal in the 200 meter race.
- Woman killed walking on Interstate 495 in Alexandria on Sunday morning
- ACPS to decide next week whether to require face masks when school restarts
- Newcomer Founders Bank eyes expansion to Alexandria
- Torpedo Factory Art Center goes back to requiring masks indoors
- Carjacking suspect suffers medical emergency while getting booked into Alexandria jail
- Rep. Beyer: Calls to defund police ‘one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard’
- GoFundMe launched for Will Nichols, retiring manager of St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub in Del Ray
- Report details life of Black Alexandrians post-Civil War in home slated for redevelopment
- Soul food brings flavor to multi-sensory African American walking tour in Old Town
- Alexandria exhibition for vintage and bizarre cars returns this fall
- Alexandria car dealership receptionist busted for alleged credit card fraud
- One year of lane closures in Potomac Yard starts today
- Man arrested after armed carjacking in West End
- BREAKING: Potomac Yard Metro opening pushed back to September 2022
- New Potomac Yard luxury condo community sells 30% of properties before construction starts
- Residents protest against conditions at West End apartment complex
- Local Democrat challenges Rep. Don Beyer in 8th District Primary
- Cigar and vape shop to open on Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray
- EXCLUSIVE: Halal slaughterhouse opens, gives away free chickens for first two days in business
- Without School Resource Officers, Superintendent wants more private security inside and police patrolling outside
- Poll: Do you plan on wearing a mask indoors again?
Have a safe weekend!
A former receptionist at Landmark Honda posted bail after being arrested earlier this month for stealing and using a customer’s credit card.
The incident occurred in January, and the suspect — a 25-year-old Alexandria woman — was arrested on July 6. She was charged with credit card theft and credit card fraud, six months after the manager of the dealership reported several fraudulent charges.
In January, the manager showed police security videos of the employee allegedly enter the customer’s private financial information into her phone, according to a search warrant affidavit.
The card owner reported several fraudulent purchases, including $165 in charges at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania. The suspect also allegedly spent nearly $500 for clothes and $27 for DoorDash, bringing the total amount to $685.97, according to police.
Police got a search warrant for the historical data on the suspect’s phone and found that she was in the area of the resort on the same day as the January 26 expenditure.
The suspect, a graduate of Bishop Ireton High School, is scheduled for arraignment in court on July 21.
An Alexandria woman pleaded guilty to money laundering as part of a scheme to defraud investors in a church-related investment business.
The fraud involved Brenda Millender and her husband, Pastor Terry Millender — leaders of the Victorious Life Church — soliciting themselves as leaders of a Christian organization brokering Nigerian oil sales. The pair were convicted in 2017.
Today, Millender pled guilty to money laundering for using access to bank accounts to receive checks written fraudulently.
Last February, Terry Millender was sentenced to eight years in prison.
According to a press release from the Department of Justice:
Brenda Millender, 60, was the wife of Pastor Terry Millender and the First Lady of Victorious Life Church in Alexandria. Terry Millender created a company called Kingdom Commodities Unlimited (KCU), which marketed itself as a Christian organization that was looking for investors to provide financing to help facilitate and broker Nigerian oil sales. Individual investors provided money to Terry Millender from 2013 to 2016 based on his false and fraudulent representations about how their money would be used, as well as material omissions about how funds would be disbursed.
Millender had access to various KCU bank accounts and she received cash from those accounts which had the effect of concealing the source and use of those funds. In some cases, checks written from KCU accounts had false and misleading descriptions on the memo lines, such as referencing the repayment of loans or office expenses, when in fact the person receiving the check had not loaned any money to KCU, was not an investor to KCU, and was not involved in KCU’s operations.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 21, with a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, though the actual sentence is likely to be less.
Photo via Google Maps
The Alexandria Fire Department has identified a suspect behind the intentional burning of a truck in the city’s impound lot (5249 Eisenhower Avenue) on July 30.
An Arlington County police officer witnessed the incident, and reported seeing two cars enter the north parking lot of 3575 Potomac Avenue.
“Approximately one to two minutes later, the law enforcement officer witness heard a loud ‘whoosh’ sound and observed (the suspect’s) vehicle being on fire and fully engulfed in flames,” notes a search warrant affidavit. “The witness then observed an individual enter a passenger side door of the second vehicle and the second vehicle left the scene.”
Fire officials determined after extinguishing the blaze that the 2016 black four-seat Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck was missing its VIN plate on the dashboard and license plates.
The suspect reported the missing truck to his insurance company on August 4, and said it was stolen in Wilmington, North Carolina. He told law enforcement that he’d last seen his truck on August 2 and that it was stolen on August 3, according to the affidavit.
No charges have been filed against the suspect, and the fire department says this is an ongoing investigation.
According to the city, the impound lot processes about 3,000 vehicles every year. It is located near the Van Dorn Metro station, a number of businesses and apartments.
Map via Google Maps