Architect of multi-million-dollar education fraud involving scuba dive shops sentenced to years in federal prison
AUGUSTA, GA: An Augusta man and his daughter have been charged in a 49-count federal indictment with filing fraudulently inflated tax returns on behalf of clients.
Ezra Hatcher Sr., 66, and Sherry Hatcher, 40, both of Augusta, were indicted in U.S. District Court for Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Ezra Hatcher also is charged with 31 counts of Aiding and Assisting in the Filing of False Tax Returns, and Sherry Hatcher is charged with 17 counts of Aiding and Assisting in the Filing of False Tax Returns.
The two were arraigned Wednesday, Oct. 28, in U.S. District Court and each granted $25,000 unsecured bonds, and as a special condition of their release Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps prohibited them from engaging in any business or fiduciary capacity without disclosing the indictment and nature of the allegations.
“The security of our national budget process depends on honest compliance with tax laws, which is a core responsibility of those who provide assistance in filing tax returns,” said U.S. Attorney Christine. “With the assistance of the IRS and our law enforcement partners, we will aggressively pursue those who attempt to defraud the system for their personal benefit.”
As described in court documents and testimony, the IRS conducted audits of tax preparation services operated by Ezra Hatcher and Sherry Hatcher. The audit determined that from 2014 to 2018, the two companies filed 57 tax returns on behalf of 15 individuals, “knowing the returns contained false and fraudulent information relating to Schedule C expenses, income, and earned income credits.” Altogether, the returns caused the IRS to issue excess refunds amounting to $167,086.
“The public trusts tax return preparers to properly prepare, review, and file their tax returns,” said IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge James E. Dorsey. “These charges allege the tax return preparers broke this trust. Always ask to review your return line by line and ask questions if you don’t understand something. Trust but verify.”
Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case is being investigated by the IRS, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alejandro V. Pascual IV and Jennifer Stanley.
Barry L. Paschal, Public Affairs Officer: 912-652-4422