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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 12, 2016

Union City Tax Return Preparer Found Guilty of Fraud

ATLANTA – Following a three-day jury trial, Frazier B. Todd, Jr. has been found guilty of preparing fraudulent tax returns on behalf of clients.  Todd owned and operated Diverse Resource Business and Tax Firm in Union City, Georgia, along with Cozzie Walker and Robert Sheffield. Walker and Sheffield were also charged in the case and previously pleaded guilty.

"Mr. Todd and his co-conspirators compromised the integrity of our tax system by preparing false tax returns and obtaining fraudulent tax refunds for clients," said U.S. Attorney John Horn.  "As we approach tax season, the public is cautioned to do their homework and choose their return preparers wisely."

"The verdict exemplifies IRS Criminal Investigation’s intense focus on the rigorous pursuit of tax refund fraud," stated Special Agent in Charge, Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot, IRS Criminal Investigation. "Frazier Todd not only violated the integrity of our tax system, but also placed an unfair burden on the hardworking taxpayers of America. We would like this verdict to serve as a strong message to other return preparers that there are consequences for committing refund fraud."

According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: Todd conspired with Cozzie Walker and Roberta Sheffield to exploit the American Opportunity Tax Credit (“AOTC”), a refundable tax credit for certain college expenses such as tuition and related costs. Marketing the AOTC as a “stimulus” available to almost anyone, Todd and his business partners prepared false tax returns for thousands of clients, many of whom were disabled, elderly, or low-income.

Todd was also convicted for a much broader fraud scheme in which he exploited not only the AOTC but other tax credits as well to maximize his clients' refunds. For example, he filed dozens of corporate tax returns falsely claiming that the businesses purchased tens of thousands of gallons of gasoline for "off-highway business use," and were entitled to the Fuel Tax Credit. He also falsely claimed that clients had installed solar panels on their homes in order to claim the Residential Energy Credit, which is designed for taxpayers who make green energy upgrades to their homes.

The jury found Todd guilty of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, obstructing the internal revenue laws, and ten counts of presenting false claims for refund to the IRS.  The Government voluntarily dismissed two additional counts of presenting false claims prior to the trial. Cozzie Walker pleaded guilty on March 2, 2016, to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.  Roberta Sheffield pleaded guilty on March 21, 2016, to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and 14 counts of presenting false claims for refund to the IRS.

The sentencing of Frazier B. Todd, Jr., 58, of Atlanta, Georgia, is scheduled for March 8, 2017, also before U.S. District Court Judge Cohen.        

The sentencings of Cozzie Walker, 42, of Atlanta, Georgia, and Roberta Sheffield, 43, also of Atlanta, Georgia, are scheduled for February 23, 2017, before U.S. District Court Judge Mark H. Cohen.

This case is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.

Assistant United States Attorneys Lynsey M. Barron and Steven D. Grimberg are prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

Updated December 16, 2016