Four people operating out of Cleveland and Maple Heights indicted for preparing hundreds of false tax returns
Four people from Ohio were named in a 31-count indictment for their roles in a conspiracy in which they filed more than 800 tax returns annually between 2012 and 2015 resulting in approximately $15 million in refunds being issued, a portion of which neither they nor their clients were entitled.
Indicted are: Keith Jeffries, 44, of Maple Heights; Brian Peacock, 33, of Sandusky; Linnette Coleman, 44, of Cleveland; and Nicole Pugh, 31, of Cleveland. All four are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. All four face additional counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false and fraudulent tax returns.
Jeffries operated a tax preparation business under the name Krew Time, LLC. Jeffries, Peacock, Coleman and Pugh all prepared returns for Krew Time clients. The company operated out of three locations – from Jeffries’ residence on Friend Avenue in Maple Heights, from the back offices of a MetroPCS store on East 71st Street in Cleveland and from a commercial building on East 140th Street in Cleveland, according to the indictment.
The defendants filed false, fictitious and fraudulent tax returns in the name of Krew Time clients. The clients received the majority of the refunds with the defendants receiving a portion of the refund as their tax preparation fee, according to the indictment.
They did this by filing false itemized deductions, business income expenses, tax credit information, medical expenses, false filing status and other information to obtain income tax refunds to which the taxpayers were not entitled. This took place between 2011 and 2016, according to the indictment.
“This group spent years trying to rip off the federal government by filing hundreds of fake tax returns,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said. “These defendants took advantage of programs designed to help sick people or struggling students and instead used them to enrich themselves.”
“These defendants wreaked havoc on the IRS by misusing their Electronic Filing Identification Number and Preparer Tax Identification Number to electronically file fraudulent income tax returns for their clients that generated inflated false income tax refunds,” stated Ryan L. Korner, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after reviewing factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carmen Henderson and Alejandro Abreu.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.