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Federal court sentences Louisiana woman in tax fraud suit

The federal authorities aggressively investigate allegations of financial offenses, particularly when the suspected crime involves tax information. Anyone under investigation for this kind of white collar crime should know that the stakes are high, and law enforcement officials will be eager to use any shred of evidence as an indication of guilt.

In September of last year, a federal grand jury indicted a 42-year-old Baton Rouge woman, charging her with conspiracy to file false claims for tax refunds, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Authorities claim she helped steal more than $240,000 from taxpayers.

The indictment asserts that from January to April 2007, the defendant worked with two other women to get names and social security numbers of various individuals and prepare fraudulent income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service. Authorities believe those involved in the scheme falsely claimed the taxpayers were self-employed and had earned income to maximize the refund amounts.

The other two women arrested in connection with the alleged fraud scheme pleaded guilty to conspiring to file false claims for tax refunds, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

The Baton Rouge woman apparently later admitted to participating in the fraud. She was sentenced to four years in federal prison, beginning March 14. Further, the court ordered her to pay $70,485 to the federal government in restitution.

While the outcome is serious, the defendant's sentence is not as severe as it could have been. If she had received the maximum penalties, she could have received 74 years in prison and a hefty fine of up to $1,500,000.

Source: wxvt.com, "Baton Rouge woman sentenced in tax fraud case," 11 Feb. 2011

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