Vincennes tax preparer sentenced in fraud scheme

By BILL POWELL
bpowell@dcherald.com

EVANSVILLE — A tax preparation business owner was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Evansville for her preparation of over 350 false tax returns in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Deborah L. Richards, 56, Vincennes, had previously pleaded guilty to three counts willfully aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, according to U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler.

Richards was sentenced to four years imprisonment by U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young.

“We have all learned to trust our tax preparer to tell us what we rightfully owe or are due from the government,” said Minkler.  “Ms. Richards betrayed that trust and, because of her greed, is going to have four years in the Bureau of Prisons to think about her actions.”

In 2015, Richards worked for Desirable Tax Services in Washington, Indiana, and prepared tax returns for clients, according to Minkler. Then, in 2016, Richards established Terry’s Tax Service in Vincennes, where she prepared tax returns for clients in 2016 and 2017.

Richards claimed false education credits, false American Opportunity credits and false itemized deductions to inflate refunds due to her clients, according to authorities.  In addition, she provided altered copies of the tax returns to her clients which were different from the tax returns she caused to be filed with the Internal Revenue Service.  Richards then charged increased fees for her preparation of these fraudulent tax returns.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney James Warden who prosecuted the case for the government, Richards earned over $250,000 in fees for her fraudulent tax preparation work.

As a result of Richards’ efforts, Minkler said, more than 350 false federal income tax returns were filed with the IRS between 2014 and 2017, which resulted in a loss to the Internal Revenue Service and the American taxpayers of $550,001.

Gabriel Grchan, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation, said, “IRS-CI does not tolerate abuse of the U.S. tax system to enrich the greedy at the expense of the honest.  Ms. Richards abused her position of trust with the taxpayers she represented for her own personal gain.  IRS special agents identified Richards’ scheme, collected the evidence and, today, obtained justice for the American taxpayer.”

Young ordered Richards to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $550,001. She must serve one year of supervised release following her sentence.

 




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