FOUR Winnipeggers, including an elderly doctor and her son-in-law, were found guilty in court Monday of running a tax scheme that netted millions of dollars for Winnipeggers claiming disabilities they didn't have.
They were each fined $89,000 and received conditional sentences for violating the Income Tax Act.
John Lopes, who ran J & J Canadian Grants Company Ltd., collaborated with his mother-in-law, Dr. Clarita Vianzon, to generate false disability tax-credit certificates. The certificates were used by people to obtain tax credits to which they weren't entitled.
Company directors Joe Diogo and Jim Kussy were also charged under the Income Tax Act. Vianzon has since retired from her medical practice, and J & J Canadian Grants closed its doors.
The bogus disability tax credit certificates raked in refunds for clients -- who later had to pay them back -- and hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions and fees for the company, investigators said in court documents. The Canada Revenue Agency obtained warrants to search for documents at J & J Canadian Grants on Century Street, the doctor's St. James home and the clinics where she last worked -- the Norlyn medical building on Hargrave Street and the St. James Street Medical Clinic.
Search warrant information said J & J Canadian Grants submitted at least 475 claims in less than a year, requesting reassessments for the disability tax credit from the Canada Revenue Agency.
Vianzon certified 262 of those claims with similar wording in the description of the disability and J & J submitted them. The refunds totalled $2.8 million.
Court documents detailed several of the claims Vianzon certified and J & J processed. Most said the claimant had problems walking and dressing and had the problem for the last 10 years -- even though the doctor had never seen them before.
As a result, the government paid out $3.5 million in refunds and interest payments to the people claiming they were owed the disability credit.
The four were charged in 2011.