Light rain fell in the Southland this morning and was expected to intensify later in the day, prompting forecasters to issue a flash flood watch for fire-denuded areas of Los Angeles and Orange counties. The flash flood watch issued by the National Weather Service will go into effect in the region’s burn areas at noon and expire late night. The watch covers virtually all of Los Angeles County, except for the Antelope Valley, and areas of Orange County recently charred in the Santiago Fire. The rainfall, generated by a Pacific storm, could be heavy at times beginning this afternoon, NWS forecasters said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champAnother system is likely to produce rain Thursday, when the chance of precipitation has been set at 40 percent during daytime hours. The rain slick roads were blamed for causing at least one crash this morning that left one person critically injured and three others with less serious injuries on the southbound Golden State (5) Freeway in Arleta, authorities said. The collision was reported about 8:40 a.m. near the juncture with the Hollywood (170) Freeway, said California Highway Patrol Officer Francisco Villalobos. All southbound lanes of the 5 Freeway were closed at the 170 Freeway while an investigation was conducted, Villalobos said. Firefighters freed one person from an overturned vehicle, said Ron Myers of the Los Angeles Fire Department. One person suffered critical injuries and three others suffered minor-to-moderate injuries, Myers said.
PALMDALE – Four Palmdale residents are among 11 Californians accused of cheating the United States government out of $1.9 million by filing fraudulent tax returns with fake W-2 forms. The 11 are suspected of participating in a ring that federal investigators say filed more than 450 false tax returns claiming about $3.5 million in refunds. The Internal Revenue Service launched an investigation before issuing all of the checks, a federal attorney said. “The IRS actually issued checks for $1.9 million,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas D. Coker said. Coker said he didn’t know how the money was spent. Butler, who remains in federal custody, faces up to 250 years in prison and a $10 million fine if convicted of all counts, officials said. Most of the other defendants were released on bail or on their promise to appear for hearings. The sailor is in Navy custody. An IRS spokesman declined specifics on what aroused suspicion, but said investigators typically look for tax returns sharing common features, such as the same refund address or the same employer. Frequently, false W-2 forms report a fairly low income, and the applicants apply for the earned-income tax credit in addition to seeking funds supposedly withheld, IRS special agent Patrick Caruth said. Charles F. Bostwick, (661) 267-5742 firstname.lastname@example.orgWant local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventInvestigators said the scheme was carried out from 2001 to 2003 with counterfeit W-2 forms from fictitious employers reporting fake wages and withholding. The forms were sent in with false income tax returns to claim refunds, officials said. Accused of being the ringleader, Mervin Butler of Palmdale faces 10 counts of conspiring to defraud the government by filing false income tax returns and W-2 forms. In a federal grand jury indictment handed up on March 29, he also was charged with 30 counts of submitting false claims for income tax refunds. A Lynwood man identified as George Allan Smith was charged with two counts of conspiring with Butler to defraud the government. Nine other people – including a U.S. Navy sailor and two other Palmdale residents, as well as residents of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Victorville, Compton and El Sobrante – were accused of providing Butler with dozens of names and Social Security numbers. Investigators said Butler, Smith and a third man had control over addresses to which tax refunds were sent, including post office boxes listed in financial-firm names.