Local Tax Preparer Sentenced On Fraud Charges
St. Louis, MO – The owner and operator of a St. Louis County tax preparation service was sentenced for filing false returns and stealing the identities of taxpayers.
RONALD SHONIWA, of Florissant, Missouri, was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment for a stolen identity and tax fraud scheme he perpetrated as the owner of Rapid Tax Service in St. Louis County between 2009 and 2012.
According to the plea agreement, Shoniwa filed 48 false tax returns calling for $188,414 in improper refunds between 2009 and 2012. The refunds were generated by Shoniwa’s false entries as to income and educational expenses so that tax credits would be improperly paid to the individual filer. On numerous occasions, Shoniwa admitted to identity theft by preparing these false returns without the knowledge or authorization of the individual listed on the return.
Shoniwa pled guilty to theft of government funds in July. He appeared today for sentencing before U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson.
In addition to the term of imprisonment, Shoniwa was ordered to pay restitution to the United States in the amount of the false returns. A native of Zimbabwe, Shoniwa was also ordered to cooperate in deportation proceedings.
"While most return preparers provide excellent service to their clients, a few unscrupulous tax preparers file false and fraudulent returns to defraud the government, the tax-paying public and their own clients," said Sybil Smith, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation. "Protecting taxpayer dollars is a matter we take extremely seriously."
This case was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Tom Albus handled the case for the U.S. Attorney's Office.