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Consumer Alert: Guidance for clients of indicted tax preparer

Martha and Chris Galeota (WJAR)

For Martha and Chris Galeota, filing taxes with Raymond Petrarca's Stratus Financial Group had become relatively effortless.

Then, a few months ago, the Coventry couple received some shocking mail.

“We got a letter from the IRS in the middle of October, saying that we had grossly underpaid,” said Martha.

According to the letter, the Galeotas owe the IRS $7,646 for grossly overreporting their mortgage interest deduction on their 2015 tax return.

“We had been receiving refunds for years and years,” said Chris. “All of a sudden, to the get this kind of a notice from the IRS was disturbing.”

The Galeotas emailed Petrarca, who said he'd take care of it.

But a few weeks ago, it became apparent that he hadn't.

“In early January, we each got a letter from the IRS saying, we haven't heard from you folks, there's still $7,000 here that we want,” said Chris.

The Galeotas said they had no idea Petrarca's problems with the IRS extended beyond their incorrect return.

“But then I found an article saying he was under indictment,” said Martha.

In September, Petrarca was indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with 44 counts of filing fraudulent tax returns.

While he awaits trail, Petrarca is allowed to prepare taxes, but those returns must be reviewed by someone who is aware of the fraud charges.

Petrarca has moved to a new office in West Warwick. According to a sign on the door, his company will be open for business on Monday.

No one answered the door when NBC 10 News stopped by. Petrarca denied a request for comment.

“Do you feel like others might be in the same boat?” asked NBC 10 Consumer Advocate Emily Volz.

“Oh, we know they are,” said Martha. “We know a lot of people that go to him and potentially have issues.”

The Galeotas are now working with the IRS to pay off the money they owe.

They've also found a new tax preparer. They’re advising all of Petrarca's nearly 3,000 clients to do the same.

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