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Press Release

Tulare County Woman Arrested for Tax and Investment Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — Marie E. Sherrill, 54, of Porterville, was arrested today on a 34‑count indictment charging her with wire fraud, money laundering, aiding the preparation of false tax returns, and corruptly interfering with the administration of the internal revenue laws, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to court documents, Sherrill was a registered tax return preparer operating a bookkeeping and tax preparation business in Porterville under the name Sherrill Financial Services. Between January 2011 and December 2014, Sherrill allegedly prepared false tax returns for her clients containing false deductions to maximize their tax refunds, causing an alleged loss to the IRS of $255,901. She allegedly attempted to obstruct IRS audits of her tax-clients and prepared and filed tax returns using someone else’s electronic filing number.

The indictment also alleges that Sherrill used the intimate financial knowledge she gained about her various clients to identify potential victims she could lure into an investment fraud scheme. She allegedly told victims of this scheme that their money would be put into “pooled investments” with the money of other investors, to earn a high rate of return. The money was, in fact, never put into any investment, but was used instead to pay Sherrill’s personal expenses or to make lulling payments to earlier investors, to make them believe their money was earning a profit. The indictment alleges that as a result of this scheme, at least 17 investment victims were defrauded of at least $1.3 million.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Mark J. McKeon is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Sherrill faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison on each count of wire fraud; 10 years in prison on each count of money laundering; and three years in prison on each tax charge. She also faces 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.

Updated September 4, 2015

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 1:15-cr-130 AWI