Jackson tax preparer pleads guilty to filing false returns

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Jackson woman could face up to 20 years in federal prison and $750,000 in fines after pleading guilty to five counts of filing false income tax returns and one count of aggravated identity theft.

Tax preparer Cynthia M. Raymond pleaded guilty to six federal charges related to a scheme in which she filed about 98 false tax returns under the names of 36 clients without their knowledge, claiming excessive refunds, a portion of which she diverted into her personal bank account, according to a plea agreement filed Friday in federal court.

In exchange for Raymond's guilty plea, the government agreed to drop four other counts against her.

According to the plea agreement, Raymond filed false tax returns for her clients, claiming deductions such as medical expenses, false tax credits, unreimbursed business expenses, charitable contributions and business losses, including some for businesses that did not exist.

With each false return, Raymond filed a form authorizing the refund to be direct deposited into more than one bank account, according to the plea agreement.

She then directed part of the refunds to the client's account and the rest to her own, providing the client with a different tax return than the one she electronically filed with the Internal Revenue Service, according to the plea agreement.

In each case, the refund listed on the false return matched the amount of the refund Raymond directed into the client's account, the plea agreement said.

One of the counts alleges Raymond underreported her own income; four counts allege she underreported clients' incomes; and the last count alleges she used someone else's name and Social Security number to file a return in the name of that person, who had no knowledge of her actions.

The plea agreement said Raymond used -- without authorization -- an Employer Identification Number assigned to H&R Block to submit the false returns.

The maximum penalty for each of the five false tax return charges is three years in prison, a $100,000 fine, three years of supervised release, restitution, the cost of prosecution and a $100 mandatory special assessment.

The maximum penalty for the identity theft charge is five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment.

Sentencing is set for Dec. 17.

Jim Cross, public information officer for federal prosecutor Barry Grissom, said it is unlikely a judge would give Raymond consecutive prison terms or sentence her to the maximum possible fine in the case, but the option exists.

Online court records show the case originated in the Eastern District of Missouri, which includes Jackson, but was transferred to the District of Kansas in May.

epriddy@semissourian.com

388-3642

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