With the April 17 tax filing deadline rapidly approaching, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Internal Revenue Service announced their continued commitment to the investigation and prosecution of those who violate federal tax laws.
U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said all Americans must abide by the tax laws.
“Nobody enjoys paying taxes, but everyone has to pay their fair share,” said Yates. “As Tax Day, April 17, approaches, we urge the residents of our community to comply with their tax obligations or be prepared to face the consequences.”
Although tax prosecutions tend to be highlighted during April every year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Internal Revenue Service investigate and charge tax fraud throughout the year, not just during the time of year that many refer to as “tax season.”
In the last two months alone, several defendants were indicted, convicted, or sentenced on tax charges. Three of those were Clayton County residents.
On March 14, Lawanda Mitchell, 31, of Atlanta, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story to serve three years and three months of imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release, for her conviction to one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of wire fraud.
Mitchell was indicted by a federal grand jury June 15, 2010, along with co-defendants Kevon Kerr, 36, of Atlanta, Tyrone Boyd, 33, of Decatur, and Ashuana Turner, 33, of Riverdale.
The scheme involved the filing of fraudulent federal and state tax returns with the identifications of Navy sailors and new recruits stolen by then Petty Officer Kerr from a military in-processing facility at Forest Park’s Fort Gillem, where he was assigned.
All four defendants have since pleaded guilty to criminal informations. On Feb. 27, 2011, Boyd was sentenced for his conviction on one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of theft of public money to two years and nine months of imprisonment followed by three years of supervise release.
On the same date, Turner was sentenced to three years and six months imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release for her conviction on one count of conspiracy.
Kerr pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of theft of public money and is scheduled to be sentenced May 8 before U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Story. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. Pearce.
On Feb. 28, Joseph Russo, 40, and Kathleen Russo, 41, both of Jonesboro, were indicted on charges of conspiracy and aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns.
The indictment alleges that the Russos, who are siblings and operated out of R&R Tax Services, prepared and filed individual tax returns for their customers that contained false and inflated items, including false claims for charitable contributions.
In addition to preparing and filing the false returns, the indictment alleges that Kathleen Russo attempted to impede an IRS audit of one of R&R Tax Service’s clients by providing the client with fraudulent receipts for charitable contributions. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie J. Abrams.
Rodney E. Clarke, special agent in charge of IRS Criminal Investigation said no taxpayers should be allowed with failing to pay their fair share.
“Nothing undermines confidence in our tax system more than the impression that the average taxpayer has to pay taxes while the dishonest taxpayer is allowed to get away with not paying their fair share,” said Clarke. “Our mission at IRS is to deter tax crimes through education and publicity. By educating the public about tax scams and letting citizens know that we are committed to identifying, investigating and vigorously prosecuting offenders, we hope to deter potential tax cheats and fraudsters. I would like to personally thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern Judicial District of Georgia for their dedication and commitment to the effective prosecution of tax crimes in the North Georgia area.”