Three Tax Preparers Indicted For Preparing False Tax Returns
MINNEAPOLIS—A federal indictment unsealed earlier today charges three Minnesota tax preparers with filing false tax returns on behalf of their customers. Solomon Frank-Sawari, Chasma Dixon, and Tameca Stokes were each indicted on one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of aggravated identity theft. In addition, Frank-Sawari was charged with nine counts of preparing false income tax returns, and both Dixon and Stokes were charged with five counts of preparing false income tax returns. The indictment, which was filed on January 15, 2013, was unsealed following the defendants’ initial appearance in federal court.
The indictment alleges that from 2007 through February of 2010, the defendants conspired with each other to obstruct the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) in its collection of income taxes. At the time, Frank-Sawari owned and operated two tax-return preparation businesses: Merit Tax Service in Robbinsdale and Capitol Income Tax in Minneapolis. Dixon worked at Merit in 2007 and at Capitol in 2008 and 2009. Stokes worked at Capitol. All three prepared and filed federal and state income tax returns on behalf of customers.
Allegedly, the defendants prepared false tax returns that generated excessive refunds, totaling more than $200,000. In turn, those refunds purportedly resulted in excessive fees and other payments to the defendants.
For tax years 2006 through 2009, the defendants prepared and filed hundreds of federal and state tax returns.
The tax returns also allegedly contained false or inflated income figures as well as false dependents, whose identities the defendants used unlawfully. The false dependents fraudulently qualified the customers for a more favorable filing status, allowed them to take dependent exemptions, and inflated their refundable earned income and child tax credits.
The indictment alleges that the defendants recruited customers, instructing them to sign false income declarations and other paperwork. In many instances, one of the defendants reportedly accompanied the customers to check-cashing businesses to ensure that the defendants would receive some portion of the fraudulent tax refund checks.
If convicted, the defendants face a potential maximum penalty of five years in federal prison for conspiracy, three years on each count of preparing false tax returns, and a mandatory minimum penalty of two years on each count of aggravated identity theft. All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge.
This case is being investigated by the IRS-Criminal Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Otteson.
An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial. Per U.S. Department of Justice policy, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is not allowed to provide the age and city of residence for defendants charged in criminal tax cases.