A man who had been barred five years ago from preparing tax returns and representing clients before the IRS was convicted of violating the injunction by continuing to do so.

James A. Mattatall, of Torrance, Calif., was convicted Tuesday of criminal contempt by a federal district court in Los Angeles, the Justice Department announced.

Prosecutors claimed that Mattatall attempted to evade detection by not signing the returns as the paid preparer and by using an alias when representing customers.

At trial, Mattatall argued that the terms "taxpayer" and "representation" were vague in the injunction and that he did not willfully violate it. However, U.S. District Court Judge Dean Pregerson, having labeled Mattatall as a "tax protestor" in his previous orders, rejected Mattatall’s defense, finding that he was playing word games and taking citations from the federal Tax Code out of context.

The court found that its injunction was clear, that Mattatall was well aware of it, and that he willfully violated it. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge cautioned Mattatall to re-evaluate his positions on the tax laws, warning him that he faces the possibility of a very tragic turn in his life if he continues down his current path.

Sentencing is set for Nov. 23, 2009, in Los Angeles. Mattatall faces a maximum sentence of six months in prison.

"The court’s guilty verdict shows there are serious criminal consequences to violating an injunction," said John A. DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s Tax Division. "The Justice Department is committed to prosecuting enjoined tax preparers and promoters who violate the terms of their injunction."

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