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Architect Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud

Monday, March 4, 2013

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A New Jersey architect has pleaded guilty to filing fraudulent tax returns on behalf of the architectural and engineering firm he owned and operated for more than 25 years.

Pravin H. Patel, 67, of Toms River, NJ, faces up to three years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for submitting false corporate tax returns for four years on behalf of his firm, Pravin H. Patel Associates Inc., according to an announcement by Paul J. Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.

Patel's clients include a New Jersey school district whose former longtime superintendent is now in prison for public corruption and tax fraud.

Patel entered his plea Feb. 26 before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler. Sentencing is scheduled for June 4, Fishman reported.

Home Renovations, Club Memberships

Between 2005 and 2009, Patel filed corporate tax returns that falsely reported personal expenses as business deductions, according to statements made and documents filed in court.

Among the unallowed personal expenses were $112,650 in payments for renovations on his personal residence in 2006.

Asbury Park Press

Architect Pravin H. Patel pleaded guilty to filing a false corporate tax return.

He also admitted that the corporate tax return for the year ending in March 2007 improperly included more than $8,200 in expenses related to a personal country club membership and associated fees, as well as numerous personal expenses paid through a corporate credit card.

The same return included false deductions of more than $145,000, and the tax loss over a four-year period for which he is criminally liable totaled $63,815, Patel admitted.

Client Investigation

In recent years, one of Patel’s primary clients was the Toms River Regional Board of Education, New Jersey's fourth-largest school district.

In 2012, Toms River’s former superintendent Michael J. Ritacco pleaded guilty to public corruption and tax evasion charges. Ritacco is currently serving a federal prison sentence of 11 years and three months, according to local reports. He was superintendent of the district for more than 20 years.

Toms River Regional Board of Education

 The Toms River (NJ) Regional Board of Education was one of Patel's primary clients.

A newspaper investigation conducted in 2011 discovered that Patel’s firm was paid more than $9 million for engineering, architectural and planning services by the school district while the firm also did work for Ritacco. That arrangement was viewed as a potential conflict of interest by at least one construction expert, the Asbury Park Press said.

The scandal also roped in school district insurance broker Francis X. Garland, who is also serving more than 11 years in prison for mail fraud, conspiracy and perjury.

Patel Associates also performed design work for Ritacco's private construction company, MJ Rit, according to the report, citing public records.

Patel’s firm was in charge of engineering, architecture and planning for a number of voter-approved, multimillion-dollar projects during the 2000s, the news outlet added.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Criminal acts; Design; Schools; Taxes

Comment from Mike Mal, (3/4/2013, 10:38 PM)

Pravin H Patel Assoc Inc is listed as an ENGINEERING consulting firm in the yellow pages, nothing about Architecture. Please correct the references in this article to reflect engineer 484 Eagle Point Dr, Toms River, NJ 08753 » Map (732) 244-1181 Be the first to review What: Consulting Engineers

Comment from Mary Chollet, (3/5/2013, 8:59 AM)

Patel Associates' corporate letterhead describes the firm as a provider of engineering, architectural and planning services. The U.S. Attorney's Office also uses this description. Thank you.

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