LAFAYETTE TAX PREPARER SENTENCED TO 24 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR PREPARING FALSE RETURNS
LAFAYETTE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that Lutricia S. Feast, 52, of Youngsville, La., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote to 24 months in prison and one year of supervised release for preparing false tax returns for herself and for her clients. The Judge also ordered Feast to pay $382,582 in restitution.
According to evidence presented at the guilty plea on November 25, 2013, Feast was a tax preparer in Lafayette Parish from 2001 to 2009. From 2006 to 2009, Feast admitted to only reporting a fraction of her income to the IRS. In one instance on her 2008 tax return, she reported her income as $14,400, when she actually earned $280,170. The defendant admitted during the guilty plea that between 2006 and 2009, her actual income was $830,986. She also admitted that she owes $287,860 in unpaid taxes. Feast filed false information on 22 tax returns in 2009 in order to provide her clients with refunds to which they were not entitled. She listed losses on tax forms in Schedule C, profit or loss from a business, for her clients, but when interviewed, clients said they had no businesses from which to lose money. The false returns caused the IRS to issue $96,915 in refunds that were not owed.
“Tax preparers who file fraudulent tax returns by adding fictitious expenses, false deductions and unallowable credits to a taxpayer’s return are taking advantage of the system,” Finley stated. “Preparing false tax returns is a serious crime - anyone who chooses to willfully aid or assist in the preparing or filing of false tax returns, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. My office stands ready to assist the IRS during their investigation and will hold these tax preparers accountable for receiving tax credits that they are not entitled to receive.”
“Prior to pleading guilty, Lutricia Feast worked as an income tax preparer where she held herself out to be an expert in the field of tax preparation,” stated Gabriel L. Grchan, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigations, New Orleans Field Office. “She manipulated the income and expenses of unsuspecting clients in order to increase their refund. By doing this, Feast was able to generate a larger clientele thus increasing her income — income that she failed to report on her own personal income tax return. Both of these actions are criminal offenses. It is very important that taxpayers do not shop tax preparers for the highest refund, but instead, find a preparer with a sound reputation that will prepare an accurate tax return. When you sign your tax return you are agreeing, under penalty of perjury, that the return is correct.”
Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2014. Visit www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Choosing-a-Tax-Professional for more information. In the past decade, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department website.
The IRS conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney James T. McManus prosecuted the case.