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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge Sentences Leader of Tax-Return Fraud Ring

(CN) - A tax preparer who pleaded guilty to defrauding the government of $28 million was sentenced in federal court to six years in prison, Manhattan prosecutors announced.

Four other co-conspirators pleaded guilty to their role in Lester Morrison's tax-return fraud, authorities say.

Morrison, the scheme's ringleader, opened a tax preparation business in the Bronx and taught the co-defendants how to prepare fraudulent returns in a class.

Morrison's syllabus included using the stolen identities of dead children to falsely claim as dependents. He also touted "business losses" from phony companies, deducted thousands of dollars for nonexistent charity contributions and job expenses, and filed fake credits for education and child care expenses.

The co-defendants received inflated commissions and fees based on the fraudulent refunds.

As part of "Operation Brass Tax," an investigation by Internal Revenue Service and federal prosecutors in New York's southern district, authorities were able to nab the people they say are responsible for this scheme.

Morrison pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the IRS and obstructing the administration of internal revenue law in August. His co-defendants - Paulette Bullock, Joy David, Kevin W. Vaden and Gary Hanna - are all scheduled for sentencing in the coming weeks.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Pastore, Santosh Aravind and E. Danya Perry.

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