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January 20, 2011

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(HOUSTON) – A 16-count indictment charging a Houston tax preparer with willfully aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation of false U.S. Income Tax Returns has been unsealed, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Rodney E. Clarke announced today.

Celia Hamilton, a Houston area tax preparer, was arrested yesterday by IRS-CI agents as a result of the return of an indictment by a Houston grand jury. The indictment was returned under seal on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011, and unsealed yesterday following her arrest. Hamilton is expected to appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Houston today when the issue of bond is expected to be raised and decided.

According to allegations in the indictment filed of record in this case, Hamilton prepared and presented to the IRS 16 U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns for income tax years 2004 through 2006 for clients claiming various false deductions, including various Form 1040 Schedule A deductions such as medical expenses, charitable deductions, personal property taxes and unreimbursed employee business expenses. The indictment also charges that on some tax returns Hamilton also claimed false tax credits, such as false education credits and false residential energy credits.

“The tax return preparer industry is at the dawn of a new era of accountability and oversight,” said Clarke. “With the new IRS rules regulating the industry, questionable return preparers who prepare fraudulent tax returns will stand out even more. This should serve as a reminder that all tax professionals have to respect the law and protect the interests of their clients and the taxpaying public. Those who fail to do so through the use of fraudulent means will be identified, investigated and vigorously prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Each of the 16 counts carry a maximum punishment of three years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 and a term of supervised release not to exceed one year, upon conviction.    
The charges are the result of an investigated conducted by special agents of the IRS-CI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles J. Escher is prosecuting the case.

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

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