Tallahassee Tax Preparer Convicted of Tax Fraud
TALLAHASSEE – Kenneth L. Barber, 62, of Tallahassee, Florida, was convicted by a federal jury in Tallahassee today of wire fraud, preparing false tax returns, making a false statement to a bank, and conspiracy to commit tax fraud. The verdict was announced by Pamela C. Marsh, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
At trial, the government presented evidence that Barber ran and operated a local tax preparation business where he encouraged preparers to falsify clients’ tax returns. Barber’s former employees testified that the defendant trained them on how to prepare fraudulent returns to increase the clients’ tax refunds. At Barber’s instruction and direction, the employees filed returns falsifying income, deductions, credits, dependents, and filing status in order to obtain inflated tax refunds and to limit the tax due to the IRS. Government agents testified that the scheme resulted in a loss of more than $700,000.
Barber was convicted of making false statements to a financial institution based upon evidence that he provided a bank with false information concerning his income in order to qualify for loans totaling more than $300,000. Records introduced at trial showed that personal and corporate tax returns Barber submitted to Wachovia Bank reflected substantially greater income than the returns the defendant actually filed with the IRS.
The defendant is facing a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy, three years in prison on each count of preparing fraudulent tax returns, twenty years in prison on each count of wire fraud, and thirty years in prison on each count of making a false statement to a bank.
In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Marsh said, “As honest American citizens are filing their tax returns in advance of Monday’s deadline, this verdict emphasizes that we continue to aggressively pursue those who defraud and illegally manipulate the tax system. Tax return preparers who engage in illegal schemes abuse positions of trust and willfully undermine the entire tax system. I am grateful to the dedicated public servants who tirelessly investigated and prosecuted this case.” U.S. Attorney Marsh specifically praised the work of the Internal Revenue Service, whose investigation led to the convictions in the case
Barber is scheduled for sentencing on June 26, 2013 before United States District Judge Robert L. Hinkle.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Winifred Acosta NeSmith.