The owner of a New Jersey business has been sentenced to a year and a half in prison for willfully preparing false tax returns for clients.

U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi also ordered Sean Gunby Sr., 45, the owner of Gunby Consulting in Clifton, N.J., to serve one year of supervised release and pay $84,559 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

Gunby pleaded guilty last December to charges of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns. For tax years 2006 through 2010, Gunby admitted that he prepared false tax returns for clients by fabricating and inflating certain expenses, deductions and credits on Schedules A, C, D and E of his clients’ tax returns. The total amount of tax the IRS was defrauded as a result is estimated at around $84,559.

“Return preparer fraud is like a contagious disease,” said Jonathan D. Larsen, acting special agent in charge of IRS Criminal Investigation’s Newark Field Office, in a statement. “It affects not only the preparer, but the individuals who have filed false information with the Internal Revenue Service. It is our hope that today’s sentence sends the message that tampering with the integrity of our nation’s tax system will result in jail time.”

Larson’s office conducted the investigation under his direction, along with the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, under the direction of U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman. The government was represented in the case by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dara Govan.

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