Two Tax Shelter Promoters Found Guilty in Billion-Dollar Syndicated Conservation Easement Tax Scheme
Two Maryland tax return preparers were sentenced to prison for conspiring to defraud the United States and preparing false tax returns. Lenore Worthy was sentenced yesterday to six months in prison and Veronica Fortune was sentenced on Sept. 14 to 12 months and one day in prison.
According to court documents and statements made in court, the defendants used varying business names, including United Tax Services LLC and Fortune’s Professional Services LLC, to provide tax preparation services. For the tax years 2012 through 2018, the defendants and a third co-conspirator, Anita Fortune, fraudulently inflated their clients’ refunds by fabricating and exaggerating Schedule A itemized deductions and by engineering Schedule C business losses.
According to information in the record, the IRS expelled Worthy from its e-filing program after she and Anita Fortune, who was using Worthy’s e-filing credentials, each prepared false returns for undercover IRS agents. Worthy and Anita Fortune subsequently used Veronica Fortune’s e-filing credentials to conceal their identities from the IRS and continue preparing false returns. The IRS later expelled Veronica Fortune from the e-filing program, but she obtained new credentials from a third party and again shared them with her co-conspirators. All three continued to prepare fraudulent returns through the 2019 filing season, causing a total tax loss to the IRS of $189,748.
In addition to the term of imprisonment, U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm ordered Worthy to serve three years of supervised release and pay approximately $189,748 in restitution to the United States. Judge Grimm ordered Fortune to serve three years of supervised release and pay approximately $86,590 in restitution.
Anita previously was sentenced to 30 months in prison on June 4 for her role in the scheme.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division made the announcement.
The IRS Criminal Investigation investigated the case.
Trial Attorney Kathryn Carpenter of the Justice Department’s Tax Division prosecuted the case.