A New Jersey schoolteacher who prepared taxes on the side has been sentenced to a year and a half in prison for preparing false tax returns.

Elijah Washington Jr. was sentenced Tuesday by Judge Jose L. Linares in a Newark federal court to 18 months in prison, two years of supervised release following his release from prison and a $4,000 fine. In addition, the judge ordered that Washington cannot engage in preparing tax returns for the period of time he is on supervised release. Washington, 53, is scheduled to report to prison by Jan. 6, 2014.

Washington pleaded guilty in February before the same judge to an indictment charging him with aiding in the preparation of false tax returns and tax evasion. He was arrested after preparing a false tax return for an undercover law enforcement agent and was indicted in April 2012 by a federal grand jury.

In addition to being a public school teacher, Washington owned and operated Elijah’s Professional Tax Service in Jersey City, where he prepared tax returns for tax years 2005 through 2008. According to prosecutors, he fabricated various items to obtain larger refunds for his clients, including deductions for tuition and fees, child tax credits, charitable contributions and job expenses. Washington also failed to report his own income on the money he earned from the tax prep business.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman credited special agents of IRS - Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen in Newark, for the investigation leading to Washington’s guilty plea and sentencing.

The government was represented on the case by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew J. Bruck of the U.S. Attorney’s Office General Crimes Unit in Newark.

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