The former manager of a Long Island-based Jackson Hewitt office has pleaded guilty to preparing a false tax return after being accused of helping prepare numerous false returns.

Shawn Livingston Presley, 51, aided and assisted in the preparation of numerous false tax returns while employed as the manager of a Jackson Hewitt Tax Services, Inc. office in Uniondale, N.Y., according to prosecutors, The returns typically claimed false Form 1040 Schedule A “itemized” deductions and expenses. As result, the amount of tax due and owing to the Internal Revenue Service was understated on each of these tax returns.

Presley entered a guilty plea to one count of a 12-count indictment, in which he acknowledged he prepared a 2004 U.S. federal income tax return falsely claiming $28,405 in deductions, including gifts to charity, job expenses and investment expenses.

The plea was made before U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Bianco. Sentencing has been scheduled for Nov. 13, 2012. Presley remains released on bond. He faces up to three years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

“The public is reminded to choose a tax return preparer carefully, just as they would choose any other professional they would consider hiring,” said Toni Weirauch, acting special agent in charge of the New York Field Office of IRS-Criminal Investigation, in a statement. “Ultimately, the taxpayer is responsible for what is reported on his or her tax return.”

The case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

Jackson Hewitt said that it cooperated with the investigation and works to prevent fraud. “Jackson Hewitt maintains a zero-tolerance policy on fraudulent activity of any kind," said Mark Steber, chief tax compliance officer at Jackson Hewitt Tax Service. "We have numerous programs and systems in place to prevent, detect and manage fraudulent situations. In the rare event where an incident occurs, we cooperate with the appropriate authorities on any investigations. We did so in this case, which took place many years ago, and involved the employee of one of our franchisees. We continue to emphasize rigorous ethical and compliance requirements and training throughout our system.”


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