Woman who created sham nonprofit for tax break sentenced to two years in jail

Crime Watch
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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — After pleading no contest to a fraud charge in creating a fake nonprofit for a tax break, Diana Roman was given six months to pay back roughly half the money she owed.

The six months has ended. Prosecutors say she hasn’t paid a dime.

After lengthy argument between attorneys, a judge agreed with the prosecution that Roman had been given sufficient time to make some form of reimbursement.

“I’ve got a zero,” said Judge Maral Injejikian of Roman’s failure to pay. “I’ve got nothing.”

Injejikian sentenced Roman Tuesday to two years in jail and ordered her to pay $510,000 in restitution to the state Franchise Tax Board. Roman cried as she was taken into custody.

Prosecutor Chris Dominguez said Roman would only have faced a year in jail if she had paid back $245,000 within six months of the plea agreement she signed in February. Since she didn’t make restitution, she received the two-year jail term.

She would have faced six years in state prison if found guilty at trial, Dominguez said.

Roman had been represented by local attorney David A. Torres, but hired Pasadena-based lawyer David Mabee for the sentencing hearing. Mabee asked the judge for two more months to allow Roman to make payments.

He argued she can’t pay the money back if she’s in jail.

“She’s not in jail and not paying either,” Injejikian said.

Roman, an acupuncturist, registered a nonprofit dog rescue with the state in 2009. She donated nearly $700,000 to her organization, Oliver Rescue Mission, between 2010 and 2013.

But tax board investigators said no dogs were rescued or rehomed by the organization. The money instead largely went to pay personal expenses for Roman’s mother, investigators said.

Additionally, Roman leased luxury vehicles and bought property in Ventura County, according to court documents.

Roman ultimately failed to report more than $1.5 million of income, according to prosecutors.

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