$212,000 Netted in Tax Fraud Plan, U.S. Says

Times Staff Writer

Judging from appearances, Howard Owen Kieffer was a successful southern Orange County businessman.

But law enforcement officials say the 33-year-old Trabuco Canyon resident dreamed up fake employers, creating a paper record that garnered him $212,000 in bogus tax refunds in the process.

Kieffer, who was indicted by a federal grand jury last week on charges of defrauding the government and filing fake income tax returns, could face a maximum of 75 years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted.

Ample Salaries Claimed


In tax returns for the past 5 years, Kieffer claimed he had received ample salaries from ICN Corp. in Los Angeles and Pacific Animal Diets Corp. in Anaheim, and that those salaries just grew larger each year. Neither company, according to the indictment, exists.

Kieffer allegedly obtained genuine blank W-2 forms, filled them out with the bogus salary information and then attached them to his tax returns. He reported that portions of the salaries had been withheld for taxes and demanded a refund, which he collected without incident.

That is, he did until an informant tipped off the Internal Revenue Service, according to prosecutor Maurice A. Leiter, an assistant U.S. attorney. Investigators quickly determined that the employers didn’t exist and charged that the returns and refunds were bogus.

Alternate Member

Kieffer, who has been active in Democratic Party politics and worked in the presidential campaign of Michael S. Dukakis last fall, now serves as an alternate member of the Democratic Central Committee of Orange County, according to Audrey Redfearn, head of the Democratic Foundation of Orange County.

Party officials confirmed that Kieffer was an alternate member of the Orange County Central Democratic Committee in 1988 and this year.

Kieffer is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 6 in federal court in Los Angeles.