Gregory J. Haanstad, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that on February 13, 2018, a federal grand jury returned a fourteen count indictment against four former tax preparers. Karen Tompkins (57), Shalonda Burns (40), Latoya Bush (37), and Lori Ann Stringfellow (55), are all residents of Milwaukee, and were employed as tax return preparers at a Liberty Tax Service Branch located at 3929 N. Humboldt Boulevard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Each defendant is charged with conspiracy to knowingly defraud the United States by preparing and filing with the IRS false tax returns that fraudulently claimed tax refunds to which the individuals were not entitled, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. Tompkins, Bush and Stringfellow were also charged with three counts each of willfully aiding in the preparation and filing of false federal income tax returns, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(2) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.
Burns was charged with two counts of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(2) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2 along with one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code 1028A and Title 18, United States Code 1343. If convicted of the charges, Tompkins, Bush and Stringfellow could face up to 14 years in prison. Burns could face a total of 33 years in prison including a mandatory sentence of two years.
The indictment alleges that the defendants fabricated their client’s business income, which fraudulently inflated the Earned Income Credit each client could claim and thereby increased each client’s refund. In addition, the indictment alleges that the defendants also created false business income and expense invoices and received kickbacks from the tax refunds.
“Tax season is upon us and so are disreputable tax return preparers,” said IRS Criminal Investigation, St. Paul Field Office Acting Special Agent in Charge Hubbard Burgess. “When these four allegedly conspired to submit false tax returns, they failed to take into account they were committing fraud and stealing from the US government, but more importantly they were stealing from the pockets of all taxpayers.”
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty. This case was investigated by the IRS Criminal Investigation division and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin Taibleson.
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For Additional Information Contact:
Public Information Officer Dean Puschnig 414-297-1700