Owner of former Valley tax business pleads not guilty to withholding clients' refunds

Posted at 2:15 PM, Aug 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-03 14:20:03-04

Coming out of federal court, Erik Ketelaar didn't seem to have time to stop and answer our questions — he's been running from our cameras for three years now.

Ketelaar, the former owner of Tio Sam Taxes, had locations across the Valley. Now, they're closed. But customers continue to say their tax refunds were deposited into Tio Sam bank accounts instead of their own.

Our investigation showed internal invoices for tax preparation fees that exactly match refund amounts.

Last month, the government accused Ketelaar of "retroactively increasing his tax prep fees to equal tax refund amounts." The indictment includes 24 counts of fraud and ID theft and it alleges Ketelaar was "intentionally withholding nearly $400,000" in client refunds.

Ketelaar was arraigned Wednesday in federal court.

He pled not guilty to the charges and is not allowed to leave the country.

Three Tio Sam customers showed up to tell him they were out $6,000.

Outside the courthouse, Ketelaar would not answer our questions about their situations and if they'd get their money back.

Ketelaar will be back in court in October.


Editor’s Note: ABC15 has updated this story’s headline to accurately reflect Mr. Ketelaar's plea.