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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Prison, Restitution For Tax Preparers Guilty Of Filing 126 False Tax Returns

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Two Columbus tax preparers guilty of federal wire fraud and identity theft charges were sentenced to prison for their crimes, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Keven Walker, 33, of Columbus, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Clay Land on Monday, March 16 to 54 months in prison and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty in August 2019 to one count of wire fraud and one count of identity theft. His co-defendant, Tiffany Gist a/k/a Tiffany Walker, 46, of Columbus, was sentenced on Monday by Judge Land to 45 months in prison and three years supervised release after pleading guilty in July 2019 to one count wire fraud and one count identity theft. In addition, Mr. Walker and Mr. Gist have been jointly ordered to repay $33,446 in restitution to the IRS. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Two dishonest tax return preparers will now spend significant time behind bars for choosing to cheat trusting clients and the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Charlie Peeler. “Our office is committed to protecting the integrity of the tax system and our citizens from fraud. We will continue to work alongside our IRS partners to root out and prosecute tax fraud.”

“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 Andrew M. Thornton, Jr., Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Atlanta Field Office. “The defendant in this investigation wreaked havoc on the integrity of our tax system in a very short time period. It is our hope that today's sentencing of Walker and Gist sends the strong message that tampering with the integrity of our nation's tax system will result in jail time."

Mr. Walker was the owner of Walker Tax Financial Group, an income tax preparation business operating in Columbus. During the 2013 tax year, IRS agents discovered that the co-defendants filed 126 fraudulent returns, attempting to steal approximately $216,684 in refunds. According to Mr. Walker’s signed plea agreement, the co-defendants used one victim’s correct social security number to file a phony tax return, but the address and W-2 form were false. Victims signed affidavits stating they never did business with the defendants and did not authorize them to file tax returns.

The case was investigated by the IRS. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mel Hyde prosecuted the case for the Government. Questions can be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603 or Melissa Hodges, Public Affairs Director (Contractor), United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 765-2362.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Tax
Component(s): 
Updated March 18, 2020