Five Tax Preparers Brought Up on Charges for Falsifying Client Returns

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The Justice Department this week asked a federal court to bar five Louisiana residents from preparing federal tax returns.

The government's complaint alleges that Eddie Ferrand, of Monroe, prepares false or fraudulent tax returns through his business, “Mr. Ed's Tax Service.” The government also brought suit against Glenda Faye Elliott and Jhacoby LaKelsey Toston, both of Monroe; Michael Dwayne Bell, of West Monroe; and William Nathaniel Kennedy, of Rayville-all of whom also allegedly prepare false or fraudulent tax returns.

The complaint alleges that the defendants prepare tax returns that claim fraudulent refunds based on improper deductions, such as fictitious or inflated medical or dental expenses, charitable contributions, and unreimbursed employee expenses. The defendants also allegedly prepare returns claiming fictitious business losses and false business expenses for businesses that their customers do not operate. Working through either Ferrand's or their own businesses, the defendants have prepared thousands of returns since 2000, allegedly costing the federal treasury more than $45 million for tax years 2000 and 2001 alone, based on the complaint's projections.

“People who prepare false or fraudulent returns cheat their customers and unfairly shift the tax burden to law-abiding taxpayers,” said Eileen J. O'Connor, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Tax Division. “The Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service are working vigorously to stop these systematic abuses of the tax system.”

The complaint also seeks an order requiring the defendants to provide the Justice Department the names, Social Security or taxpayer identification numbers, addresses, e-mail addresses, and telephone numbers of their customers.

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