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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Modesto Tax Return Preparer Charged with Tax Fraud

FRESNO, Calif. — On April 5, 2018, a federal grand jury returned an 11-count indictment against Chris Donell Smith, 54, of Stockton, charging him with assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to the indictment, Smith prepared federal income tax returns for New Covenant Tax & Accounting in Modesto. He allegedly prepared fraudulent returns for a number of his clients that reported false items or dollar amounts without their knowledge or consent. For some of these clients, he prepared a correct tax return which he gave the client, but then electronically filed a fraudulent return claiming a higher refund. He directed that the payment of the refund be split, with the amount the client expected going into the client’s own bank account and the additional higher amount going into an account controlled by Smith. The indictment charges that Smith defrauded the IRS of approximately $63,000.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. McKeon is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Smith faces a maximum statutory penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Press Release Number: 
1:18-cr-071 DAD
Updated April 12, 2018