WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service announced that, following a three-day trial, a federal jury today convicted Jerome J. Harris of willfully preparing fraudulent income tax returns for his clients. United States District Judge Nancy Atlas scheduled sentencing for December 5, 2005.
The maximum penalty for each fraudulent return charge is three years imprisonment followed by up to one year of supervised release, a fine of $250,000, and liability for the costs of prosecution.
"People who prepare false or fraudulent tax returns risk criminal prosecution and, upon conviction, substantial time in jail," said Dana Boente, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Tax Division. "They also put their clients at serious risk of civil penalties and, in appropriate cases, criminal prosecution."
"While most return preparers provide excellent service to their clients, unscrupulous tax preparers file false and fraudulent returns to cheat and ultimately defraud their clients and the government," said Nancy Jardini, Chief Criminal Investigation. "Today's verdict reaffirms the IRS's commitment to investigate and recommend prosecution against return preparers who knowingly prepare false tax returns on behalf of others."
According to the indictment and evidence introduced at trial, Mr. Harris was a full-time employee of the Department of Public Works and Engineering for the City of Houston and also owned and operated Jay's Bookkeeping and Tax Service, located at his residence in Missouri City, Texas. He prepared 21 fraudulent federal income tax returns, which falsely reported filing status, dependents, Schedule C businesses, gross income, and expenses, and claimed fraudulent tax refunds totaling approximately $70,000.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Boente thanked Tax Division Trial Attorneys Jenny Grus and Jen Ihlo, who prosecuted the case. He also thanked the special agents of the Internal Revenue Service whose assistance was essential to the successful investigation and prosecution of the case.
Additional information about the Justice Department's Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.usdoj.gov/tax.