'#1 Tax Lady' Charged with Filing Phony Tax Returns

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A Kalamazoo, Mich., tax preparer who billed herself as the “#1 Tax Lady” has been indicted on multiple counts of tax fraud.

Fontrice Lenee Charles, 39, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, appeared in federal district court Monday to be arraigned on 27 felony charges stemming from her tax preparation business.

A federal grand jury charged her earlier this month with 27 federal felony offenses alleging that Charles filed false tax returns for others, and supplied false information designed to ensure hefty refunds, between Jan. 17, 2011 and Feb. 4, 2014. Under counts one through 25, she allegedly prepared 482 such tax returns during this period, resulting in improper tax refunds of approximately $2 million. Each of the 25 counts carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison and other penalties.

Prosecutors also allege that Charles’s own tax returns for 2010 and 2011 were false as well because they did not report the income that Charles earned as a result of her fraudulent tax preparation activity, and because she claimed a deceased person as a dependent. Each of the two offenses carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

Charles appeared in federal court Monday before Magistrate Judge Ellen Carmody. She requested court-appointed counsel, and the judge released Charles on bond. An arraignment and initial pretrial conference will be scheduled later this week.

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