San Diego Tax Return Preparer Sentenced to Prison for Tax Fraud
WASHINGTON – Fe S. Garrett, a resident of National City, Calif., was sentenced today to 65 months in prison and ordered to pay $377,468 in restitution by U.S. Judge M. James Lorenz in San Diego, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced. In August 2009, Garrett was convicted of filing false individual tax returns, failure to pay taxes, and multiple counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns following a nine-day trial.
According to the evidence presented at trial, for tax years 2001 and 2002, Garrett prepared at least 18 federal income tax returns for her clients that were false as to material matters in that the tax returns claimed fraudulent itemized deductions, child care expenses and Schedule E real estate rental expenses in amounts that she knew her clients were not entitled to claim.
Additionally, according to the documents filed in the case and evidence presented at trial, Garrett was a licensed tax return preparer and licensed real estate broker who operated a tax return preparation and bookkeeping business and a real estate financing business. These businesses operated under multiple names, including Fe's Tax Service, Garrett's Tax Service and Garrett's Realty and Mortgage. Garrett failed to report over $300,000 of her business gross receipts from those businesses on her federal income tax returns for tax years 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005.
Additionally, the evidence at trial showed that Garrett willfully failed to pay approximately $279,000 in federal income taxes that she owed for tax years 2001 through 2006. Despite filing tax returns for 2001 and 2006 on which she admitted owing tax each year, Garrett spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at local casinos, wired over $100,000 to the Philippines, and did not respond to numerous attempts by the IRS to contact her.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Garrett prepared a false tax return for an undercover IRS agent that included false items similar to those on her client’s returns. In a recording presented at trial, Garrett was heard describing her "style" of preparing tax returns using "loopholes" for claiming deductions on income tax returns.
"During tax filing season, return preparers and taxpayers should be aware of the serious consequences facing those who aid or assist in the filing of fraudulent tax returns," said John A. DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Tax Division. "Those who fly in the face of the tax laws face investigation, prosecution, and if convicted, significant prison sentences and substantial fines."
"Today's sentence sends a strong message to unscrupulous return preparers who think they can get away with tampering with our nation's tax system," said Victor S. O.Song, Chief, Criminal Investigation, Internal Revenue Service. "Return preparer fraud is a crime that can and does result in jail time."
Acting Assistant Attorney General DiCicco commended the IRS-Criminal Investigation special agents who investigated the case, as well as Tax Division trial attorneys Christopher S. Strauss and Elizabeth C. Hadden, who prosecuted the case. Acting Assistant Attorney General DiCicco also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego for their assistance in successfully prosecuting this matter.