The chief operating officer of an insurance and tax preparation business pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to prepare false tax returns for clients.

Eric Amankwah, 43, entered his plea in Camden federal court before U. S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman. He was chief operating officer for BKB Financial Center, Inc., located in Newark, N.J. and Legon Financial Services Group LLC, located in Parlin, N.J. Both businesses provided insurance and tax preparation to clients.

According to prosecutors, Amankwah and others conspired to prepare false tax returns on behalf of clients in order to obtain fraudulent refunds for their clients and generate fees for themselves. Specifically, Amankwah and others prepared and caused to be filed tax returns with the IRS that claimed false Schedule A deductions, false Schedule C businesses, false tuition and fee expenses and false child care expenses. The fraudulent returns are estimated to have caused a tax loss to the IRS of approximately $63,000.

The conspiracy charge carries up to five years in prison and a fine equal to the greatest of $250,000 or twice the gross amount of any pecuniary gain derived from the offense; or twice the gross amount of any pecuniary loss sustained by any victims of the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for July 24, 2015.

“Tax return preparers have a duty to their clients to prepare tax returns that comply with the law and are complete and accurate,” said Jonathan D. Larsen, special agent in charge of IRS Criminal Investigation’s Newark Field Office, in a statement. “As we near the April 15 tax filing deadline, today’s guilty plea by Mr. Amankwah should serve as a reminder that IRS Criminal Investigation takes these violations of law very seriously.”

The investigation was conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation’s Newark Field Office, under Larsen’s direction and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, under the direction of U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman. The government was represented in the case by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joyce M. Malliet.

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