Husband And Wife Ordered To Prison For Falsifying Client Tax Returns
HOUSTON – Tax return preparers Marlin Jermaine Beckett and Gia Cooper Beckett have sent to prison for making up deductions that resulted in approximately $360,000 in fraudulent client refunds, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Lucy Cruz, special agent in charge of Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). Both pleaded guilty in April 2013.
Today, U.S. District Judge Nancy F. Atlas, who accepted the guilty pleas, handed Marlin Beckett a 36-month sentence to be followed by a one-year-term of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $196,923 in restitution to the IRS. Gia Beckett will be on probation for three years and must pay another $163,441 in restitution. The court further ordered neither person prepare any more tax returns except their own.
“One of the IRS’s main objectives is to ensure that all tax practitioners and preparers adhere to professional standards and follow the law,” said Cruz. “CI’s efforts to deter refund fraud are critical to overall tax compliance; our special agents play a valuable role by identifying, investigating and recommending prosecution of abusive return preparers. As we approach tax filing season, we remind taxpayers to be very diligent when deciding who they select to prepare their returns.”
The Becketts are husband and wife tax return preparers and were charged in separate, but related cases. According to the factual basis in support of their respective pleas, they each admitted they claimed false business mileage deductions for local clients that fraudulently increased tax refunds by approximately $360,000 for tax years 2006 through 2009.
Originally released on bond, Marlin Beckett was recently taken into custody when further investigation of his activities revealed he continued to prepare tax returns in violation of his bond conditions. At least one of those tax returns had the same kind of false deductions that had led to his conviction.
Further investigation of Marlin Beckett’s activities also led to the successful prosecution of Yevette Lauren Walton and Lakisha Lashell Rodgers for their role in a local stolen identity refund scheme. Rodgers and Walton pleaded guilty, admitting they used dozens of identities over a two-year period that caused about $60,000 in actual losses during the 2012 tax filing season. The scheme could have caused another $540,000 had it not been detected early in the 2013 tax filing season.
Stolen identity refund frauds typically involve the use of stolen identities to obtain fraudulent tax refunds wired to debit cards in the victims’ names so the refunds can be harvested anonymously by the perpetrators. Walton and Rodgers were also sentenced today to 24-month-terms of imprisonment before Judge Lee Rosenthal.
The investigation leading to these charges was conducted by IRS-CI with assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmy Sledge Jr. is prosecuting both cases.