Ohio man wins $1 million in lottery, then claims $1 million in losses

A man who won $1 million in the Powerball lottery has found himself in hot water with the IRS after trying to hide his winnings.

Mustafa Shalash, of Hilliard, Ohio, got a big win in 2015, picking all five numbers but missing the Powerball bonus itself. Still, he was awarded $710,000 of the prize, with the remainder of the $1 million being held for taxes.

Shalash didn’t seem to like that and has pleaded guilty to falsely claiming on his taxes that he had posted gambling losses equal to the amount he won that year. That enabled him to get a refund on the $290,000 that had been withheld.

Prosecutors say Shalash inflated his gambling losses (which were actually around $300,000) and instead wired the lottery money overseas, with the majority going to a bank account in Jordan. Shalash failed to disclose the foreign bank accounts as part of his federal tax filings, documents allege.

Beyond his lottery winnings, the IRS says Shalash, on several occasions, transported more than $10,000 in funds to overseas accounts, including $59,000 in three separate cashier’s checks to the Jordanian bank account.

Sentencing in the case is scheduled for next year. Filing a false income tax return carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. Shalash’s attorney says his client plans to pay the money he owes before that time.

“Concealing bank accounts overseas and inflating losses on a tax return is a recipe for criminal tax prosecution,” said Bryant Jackson, special agent in charge of criminal investigation in the IRS Cincinnati field office.

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