Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge Virginia Covington today sentenced Ashley Flournoy (Riverview) to two years in federal prison for to conspiracy to commit tax fraud and aiding or assisting in the preparation of false income tax return documents. The Court previously sentenced codefendants Jamica Nelms, Capriesha Cummings, and Camille Harper – all of St. Petersburg – to three years, two and half years, and one year in federal prison, respectively, for the same criminal charges.
According to court documents, from January 2017 through April 2019, Nelms, Cummings, Flournoy, and Harper were income tax return preparers at a business in St. Petersburg. The defendants conspired to defraud the United States by preparing false income tax returns for numerous clients for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to issue tax refunds in amounts in excess of what the clients were entitled to receive. In doing so, the defendants documented on Schedule C forms they prepared that clients owned fictitious businesses, which maximized the clients’ ability to claim the Earned Income Credit on their tax returns and thereby increase their tax refunds. The defendants also fraudulently reported that clients were entitled to claim credits for fuel taxes or educations expenses paid to make it appear that their clients were entitled to tax refunds.
The defendants collectively were ordered to pay $1,006,881 in restitution to the IRS and to never prepare tax returns for third parties again.
“As we approach the tax filing season, taxpayers are reminded to be vigilant when entrusting someone with preparing their tax returns. Dishonest return preparers not only defraud the IRS, but are also stealing from the American taxpayer,” said Tara K. Reed IRS-CI Acting Special Agent in Charge. “Today’s sentencing is a warning to those who might consider preparing false tax returns that there is a heavy price to pay for committing fraud. IRS-CI Special Agents are withholding no effort in cracking down on fraudulent return preparers and we will continue protecting taxpayer money.”
This case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Greg Pizzo and Jay Trezevant.
Originally published at https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/pr/four-tampa-bay-area-tax-preparers-sentenced-prison