By Daniel Silliman
A 49-year-old Riverdale woman had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to submit a false claim.
Awaiting sentencing, Majalai Wisdom joins her confessed co-conspirator, Wyshawn Landers, a 24-year-old from College Park, in facing a possible 10-year federal prison sentence. The two tax preparers submitted 22 false tax refund claims between 2003 and 2005, for a total of more than $80,000, according to a federal indictment.
Wisdom pleaded guilty on April 8, a week before the 2008 filing deadline, and was cited in this year's warnings against tax fraud.
"The April 15th deadline should not serve as a temptation to cheat on taxes, for either taxpayers or tax preparers. There are millions of Americans who comply honestly and conscientiously with the laws ... and the ones who cheat take money away from everyone who pays his or her share," said David E. Nahmias, United States Attorney.
According to federal court documents, Landers recruited people who were willing to file false income-tax returns, in exchange for a $500 finders fee. Landers sent the customers willing to cheat on their taxes to Wisdom. Wisdom made up fraudulent W-2 forms with fake employers, incorrect salary amounts and inflated withholding figures. When the Internal Revenue Service sent the filer a large refund check, larger than the citizen could have received honestly, Wisdom collected a fee of $500 or $1,000.
Wisdom didn't work out of a local tax-preparation business, federal documents show, but acted as a "third party designee."
Those who filed with Wisdom's false W-2s were given refunds between $2,142 and $6,323, according to a grand jury's indictment, "knowing such claims to be false, fictitious, and materially fraudulent."
In a statement listing four federal, tax-related indictments, four guilty pleas, three convictions and three sentencing, Nathan J. Hochman, assistant attorney general of the tax division, said tax fraud is a violation of basic civic duty.
"American citizenship starts from a simple equation," he said, "that with the privileges this country bestows upon its citizens comes concomitant responsibilities and obligations. One of those central obligations is to file a truthful tax return every year and pay any taxes owed."
Previously, a number of Clayton County residents have made the department of justice's annual warning list.
In 2006, a 40-year-old Riverdale woman was convicted of filing falsified tax returns. Alease Marie Lewis filed forms, between 2001 and 2004, listing fake business expenses, charitable contributions and dependents as deductions. She was sentenced to a year and a half in prison. Donna Wright Hodge, a 52-year-old from Riverdale, was indicted on charges she filed fraudulent income tax returns for clients, listing fake itemized deductions and business. The woman pleaded guilty two years ago to reduced charges and was sentenced to four years probation and more than $92,000 restitution.
In 2005, in Forest Park, 2-year-old Xavier Miranda was shot and killed with a .44-caliber revolver during an armed robbery which resulted from a dispute over the fee for filing a fraudulent tax refund. Three men and two women were found guilty of the murder and sentenced to state prison.