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April 15, 2009


(HOUSTON)  – Indictment charging tax-return preparers Nathalene Rice Pickens and Veronica Bellamy with aiding and assisting in the preparation of false income tax returns for the years 2002 through 2005 have been returned by a federal grand jury in Houston, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson and IRS Special Agent in Charge Rodney E. Clarke announced today.

Pickens is named in a 28-count indictment alleging she prepared tax returns claiming false Schedule A deductions to increase refunds for clients without authorization. Bellamy is named in a 31-count indictment alleging that she prepared false tax returns claiming false Schedule A, false Schedule C business losses, false education and earned-income credits also to increase refunds for clients without authorization.

"While most return preparers provide excellent service to their clients, a few unscrupulous tax preparers file false and fraudulent returns to defraud the government, the taxpaying public and their own clients,” said IRS Special Agent in Charge Rodney E. Clarke. “Once the IRS detects a fraudulent return, it is the taxpayer, not the return preparer, who must pay the additional taxes and interest and may be subject to penalties.”

SAC Clarke offered the following advice, “Taxpayers need to be mindful of a few red flags when considering a tax preparer. These include tax preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers along with preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the refund. Always check the preparers credentials. Decide whether the individual or firm will be around to answer questions about the preparation of the tax return months or even years after the return has been filed. Find out if the preparer is affiliated with a professional organization. Utilize a reputable tax professional who signs the tax return and provides the taxpayer with copy. Only attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs) and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS in all matters including audits, collection actions and appeals. Considering this advice could save many taxpayers a host of problems."
Pickens and Bellamy are scheduled to make their initial appearances before a United States Magistrate Judge on Monday, April 20, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. 

If convicted of the offenses charged, Pickens and Bellamy face a maximum prison term of three years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 on each count. 

The investigations leading to the charges were conducted by Special Agents of Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jimmy Sledge Jr. 

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.



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