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News Maryland Baltimore Crime Beat

Baltimore resident convicted in financial fraud schemes

A Zimbabwe native living in Baltimore was convicted Thursday on charges related to several different fraud schemes in which he was accused of bilking credit unions and the Internal Revenue Service, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Makushamari Gozo, 40, was first indicted in 2002 on charges he had fraudulently obtained mortgage loans for people who did not intend to pay them off. By October 2004, five businesses Gozo incorporated to make those real estate transactions were forfeited for the state for failure to pay property taxes, federal prosecutors said. He was ultimately sentenced to 57 months in prison.

Last year, Gozo was arrested again and federal prosecutors added new charges — that Gozo filed bogus claims for $23 million in alternative fuel tax credits and for a $3 million loan from a credit union.

"The evidence showed that Makushamari Gozo received over $370,000 in fraudulent federal tax refunds and caused the IRS to issue checks for more than $12 million in tax credits and refunds for alternative fuel that he falsely claimed his sham companies had purchased," U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a prepared statement.

Gozo used "sham businesses" in the scheme and lied about his income and employment, the Department of Justice said.

Gozo will be sentenced on October 25 and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on each of the 18 counts of making a false claim and 30 years in prison on each of the five counts of bank fraud.

cwells@baltsun.com

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