Huntsville Tax Return Preparer Sentenced For Fraudulent Refund Scheme
HOUSTON – Cedric Keith Oliphant has been ordered to prison following his conviction related to the preparation of false client tax returns, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Lucy Cruz, special agent in charge of Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). Oliphant pleaded guilty in August 2013.
Today, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon, who accepted the guilty plea, handed Oliphant a 33-month sentence. He was further ordered to pay a restitution of $325,852 and will also be required to serve one year of supervised release following completion of the prison term.
Oliphant owned and operated Oliphant Tax Service on Sam Houston Avenue in Huntsville until 2009. Court documents show that Oliphant had included false deductions in at least 69 tax returns without his clients’ knowledge or consent, which fraudulently increased their refunds by approximately $325,000 for tax years 2006 through 2008. The most egregious fraudulent refund was obtained in a 2007 tax return that claimed false deductions for medical, charitable and unreimbursed business expenses totaling almost $65,000. This tax return alone caused an estimated loss to the U.S. Treasury of $11,261.
In handing down the sentence today, Judge Harmon noted that Oliphant had prepared hundreds more tax returns with deductions similar to those described in the plea agreement indicating that actual losses to the National Treasury could be as much as $1 million.
Oliphant had been previously released on bond. However, that bond was revoked when it was determined he violated the conditions of his release by continuing to prepare tax returns after conviction. At that bond hearing on April 10, 2014, evidence demonstrated Oliphant had prepared and electronically filed at least 463 client tax returns during the 2014 filing season.
He will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The investigation leading to these charges was conducted by IRS-CI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmy Sledge Jr. is prosecuting the case.