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Former NASA investigator guilty of tax fraud

Alvin Allen, who embezzled church funds, had worked at JPL.

July 22, 2011|By Joe Piasecki, joe.piasecki@latimes.com

A former NASA investigator who had worked at JPL in La Cañada Flintridge pleaded guilty this week to filing a fraudulent federal tax return that failed to report nearly $300,000 he stole from a Lancaster church.

Alvin Danielle Allen, 42, was a special agent with NASA’s Office of Inspector General, which conducts audits of agency operations and investigates allegations of fraud, waste and misconduct.

Court documents state that NASA employed Allen from 2000 to November 2009. NASA Office of Inspector General spokeswoman Renee Juhans said Allen worked out of an Inspector General satellite office at JPL for nearly 10 years.

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Allen pleaded guilty last year in Los Angeles Superior Court to a charge of grand theft by embezzlement for stealing cash tithes by members of Lancaster Baptist Church, where he was a deacon and served on a committee that counted donations after services.

He was sentenced to four years in state prison, said L.A. County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison.

On Thursday, Allen pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of subscribing to a false 2004 federal tax return, but admitted in his plea agreement to stealing $299,975 from the church from 2004 through 2008, according to information released by the Internal Revenue Service.

The former NASA investigator faces up to three years in federal prison on the tax evasion charge. He remains behind bars awaiting sentencing on Nov. 7 by U.S. District Court Judge George H. King at the Roybal Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles.

Allen will also file amended tax returns and pay $88,000 in back taxes and penalties, according to his plea agreement. His federal prison sentence will run concurrent to his state prison sentence, according to that document.

“Allen violated the trust placed in him by NASA as well as his church community for his own personal financial gain,” reads a statement by Leslie DeMarco, special agent in charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Field Office in Los Angeles.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and NASA’s Office of Inspector General, Allen’s former employer, also participated in the federal investigation.

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