The Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that former professional tax return preparers Greene Wylie Sheppard, Sabrina Johnson-Lavant and Chandra Henderson were sentenced this month to serve 56 months, 8 months, and 18 months in prison, respectively, for conspiring to defraud the United States by filing false tax returns in order to receive fraudulently-inflated refunds for their clients. In addition to conspiracy, Sheppard was also sentenced for aggravated identity theft. Sheppard was sentenced on July 11, 2013, and Johnson-Lavant and Henderson were sentenced yesterday.
According to court documents, Sheppard owned and operated Quick Tax, a tax preparation business in Cordele, Ga. He conspired with his employees Johnson-Lavant and Henderson to obtain higher refunds on clients’ returns by falsely inflating clients’ wages in order to exploit certain tax credits. The co-conspirators sold other people’s identifying information to their clients, and these other identities would then be claimed as dependents on their tax returns in order to manipulate the size of the refund. The three return preparers acquired dozens of identities by purchasing them. They maintained notebooks that kept track of the identities and how much clients owed them for the false dependents. Over the course of the conspiracy, which spanned four years, Quick Tax claimed over $400,000 in fraudulent refunds.
Assistant Attorney General Keneally commended the efforts of Special Agents of IRS - Criminal Investigation and Trial Attorneys Alexander Effendi and Charles Edgar Jr. of the Tax Division, who prosecuted the case.
Note: A prior version of this release incorrectly stated the prison sentences for Sabrina Johnson-Lavant and Chandra Henderson were 18 months and 8 months, respectively. The release has been changed above to reflect the correct sentence of 8 months for Johnson-Lavant and 18 months for Henderson.