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Press Release

Chambersburg Woman Found Guilty Of Extortion For Attempting To Shut Down A Rival Tax Preparation Business

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Maria Colvard, age 49, of Chambersburg, was convicted late yesterday after a four-day jury trial on two counts of extortion and one count of aiding the impersonation of an employee of the United States. The jury returned the three guilty verdicts yesterday before United States Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner, in federal district court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  The jury acquitted Colvard of two counts of witness tampering.

According to U.S. Attorney Peter Smith, between February and May 2013, Colvard convinced an employee at Tax Max LLC, a tax preparation service owned by Colvard in Chambersburg and Hanover, Pennsylvania, to claim to be a criminal investigator with the Internal Revenue Service to shut down the rival business, known as Christina’s Tax Service, also located in Chambersburg.  The employee, Merarys Paulino, then claimed to be an IRS agent and demanded money from Christina’s Tax Service as well as its client list. Paulino previously entered a guilty plea to impersonating an IRS agent and cooperated in the prosecution of Colvard.

As a result of the guilty verdicts, Colvard faces up to 24 years’ imprisonment and $600,000 in fines.  She also faces deportation as a non-citizen.  Chief Judge Conner ordered that Colvard be detained pending sentencing and ordered a presentence report be prepared by the Probation Department.

This case was investigated by the United States Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daryl F. Bloom.

A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

In this particular case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute is 24 years’ imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $600,000 fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.


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Updated June 12, 2015