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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nashville Tax Return Preparer Sentenced To Three Years In Prison For Role In Million Dollar Tax Refund Scheme

NASHVILLE, Tenn., - August 12, 2014 - Carolina Serrano, 42, of Nashville, Tenn.,  was sentenced on August 8, 2014, by Chief Judge Williams J. Haynes to serve three years in prison for her participation in a tax refund fraud conspiracy that resulted in the payment of more than $1 million dollars in fraudulent federal tax refunds, announced U.S. Attorney David Rivera. Judge Haynes also ordered Serrano to pay $1 million dollars in restitution, and in lieu of cash, ordered that she forfeit any property she owned that was collectively worth up to $1 million dollars.   

At a plea hearing in November 2013, Serrano admitted that she had conspired with two co-defendants and others to defraud the United States; to aid in the theft of government money; to engage in mail fraud; and to prepare false tax returns. Serrano confessed that between 2011 and October 2013, she prepared fraudulent federal tax returns for other participants in the scheme using aliases, false employment and earnings, non-existent dependents and other false information, to generate tax refunds which were not owed.

Serrano also admitted that she referred accomplices to certain individuals whom she knew would cash the refund checks, despite the fact that the person presenting the check was not the payee. Serrano agreed that she had thereby helped others obtain more than $1 million in fraudulent tax refunds.       

“This was not a case in which someone simply cheated on their taxes by lying about their true earnings or deductions, which is also a serious crime,” said United States Attorney David Rivera. “This case involved an orchestrated wholesale scheme to blatantly steal taxpayer money in the form of tax refunds, of which the participants were entitled to nothing. When, as here, the evidence demonstrates a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, this office will seek a sentence that accurately reflects the financial harm inflicted by such a defendant on the honest American taxpayer.”  

Also charged in the case were Elizabeth Navas and Gregoria Perez-Ortiz, both of Nashville and both of whom have previously pleaded guilty. Navas will be sentenced on August 15, 2014, and Perez-Ortiz will be sentenced on August 18, 2014.

The case was jointly investigated by the IRS-Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and the Postal Inspection Service.  The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hilliard Hester. 

Updated March 19, 2015