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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 20, 2019

North Carolina Office Manager Pleads Guilty to Employment Tax Fraud

A New London, North Carolina, woman pleaded guilty to employment tax fraud, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin of the Middle District of North Carolina. 

Terra Dawn Ferguson pleaded guilty to one count of failing to collect, account for, or pay over payroll taxes for the employment tax quarter ending Dec. 31, 2015.

According to court documents, from approximately 1992 through at least September 2016, Ferguson was employed as an office manager at a pediatric office in Randolph County, North Carolina. As office manager, Ferguson had complete control over the pediatric office’s finances. Ferguson was also responsible for collecting, accounting for, and paying over to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) payroll taxes that were withheld from the wages of the business’ employees. From March 2011 through September 2016, Ferguson withheld approximately $78,937 in payroll taxes from employees’ paychecks and willfully failed to pay that money to the IRS. Ferguson also failed to pay $35,472 for the employer’s share of employment taxes. Instead of paying these taxes to the IRS, Ferguson paid her personal credit card bills, funded personal business ventures involving a mountain cabin rental and a bar, paid for personal vacations, and issued checks to herself totaling $1.4 million, all from the business’ bank account.

Additionally, Ferguson prepared false individual income tax returns for her employer that falsely underreported gross receipts and inflated mortgage interest deductions, causing an additional tax loss of over $250,000. The total tax loss resulting from Ferguson’s fraudulent conduct is approximately $374,101.

Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 27, 2019. Ferguson faces a statutory maximum of five years in prison, as well as a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Martin commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Trial Attorneys Mara Strier and Alexander Effendi of the Tax Division and Assistant United States Attorney Frank Chut, who are prosecuting this case.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Tax
Press Release Number: 
19-543
Updated May 20, 2019