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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 22, 2019

Tax Preparer Sentenced for Falsifying Tax Returns and Stealing Identities

St. Louis, MO – Kela Burns, 36, of Bridgeton, was sentenced to 44 months in prison for her role in preparing fraudulent tax returns; access device fraud; social security fraud; bank fraud; and, aggravated identity theft.  Burns appeared today before U.S. District Judge Rodney W. Sippel.

According to court documents, Burns fraudulently prepared federal tax returns and used identifying information of others through her business, Priority Tax Services between January 1, 2016 and April 15, 2018.  In addition, she fraudulently used social security numbers not assigned to her in order to commit bank fraud between May 27, 2016 and November 16, 2016. 

Burns pled guilty in December 2018 to seven counts – one count of preparing a fraudulent tax return; one count of access device fraud; two counts of social security fraud; two counts of bank fraud; and one count of aggravated identity theft.  Additional court filings revealed that after her guilty plea, Burns continued to file fraudulent tax returns on behalf of previous clients of her tax preparation business.  As a result, of the continued criminal conduct, Burns’ lost credit for acceptance of responsibility, and was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal’s Service at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing instead of being permitted to surrender herself to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Office of Criminal Investigation, the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General, and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.  Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Berry is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Topic(s): 
Tax
Updated April 22, 2019