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TAX FRAUD SCHEME INDICTMENT OF SIX CENTRAL ARKANSAS RESIDENTS ALLEGES FRAUDULENT REFUNDS SUBMITTED TOTALED MORE THAN $1.7 MILLION

June 6, 2012

Little Rock - Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced the indictment of six individuals involved in a tax refund scheme. Indicted are: Brenda S. Laws, age 55; Jameel L. Laws, age 26; Lareka S. Laws, age 34; Milton L. Laws, Jr., 31; and Teneshia W. Roberts, age 29, all of Pine Bluff, Arkansas; and Steven R. Barnett, Jr., age 25, of Altheimer, Arkansas. Lareka S. Laws was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of filing a false claim against the United States. The remaining five defendants were charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of filing a false claim against the United States.

According to the indictment, all six individuals conspired to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by filing 2008 federal income tax returns in their own names and in the names of others without their knowledge to claim refunds they knew they were not entitled to receive. This group of individuals was allegedly responsible for the filing of a total of 251 tax returns which falsely claimed the First-Time Homebuyers Credit. The refund claims totaled more than $1.7 million. Brenda and Lareka Laws created false Forms 5405, the First-Time Homebuyer Credit Form, which contained fabricated addresses and acquisition dates of property that the taxpayer listed did not purchase. These returns were then filed electronically with the IRS.

Each individual faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both; not more than 3 years supervised release, and a $100 special assessment if convicted of the conspiracy count. Each false claim count carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both; not more than 3 years supervised release, and a $100 special assessment if convicted.

The investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Mazzanti.

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Christopher R. Thyer

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