Tulare County Woman Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud and Investment Fraud
FRESNO, Calif. — Marie E. Sherrill, 56, of Porterville, pleaded guilty today to one count of wire fraud and one count of aiding the preparation of a false tax return, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to the plea agreement, Sherrill promoted a fraudulent investment program that promised the victims of the 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 invested. Instead, it was used to pay Sherrill’s personal expenses, including gambling, and to make lulling payments to earlier investors to make them believe their money was earning a profit. As a result of this scheme, victims were defrauded of at least over $1.3 million.
In addition to the investment fraud scheme, Sherrill also committed tax fraud. 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 prepared false tax returns for her clients containing false deductions to maximize their tax refunds, causing a loss to the IRS of approximately $255,900.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. McKeon is prosecuting the case.
Sherrill is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd on November 13, 2017. Sherrill faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison for wire fraud and three years in prison for the tax charge. She also faces a $250,000 fine on each count. The actual sentence, however, will 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.