Ex-tax return preparer sentenced for fraud

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 43-year-old Jacksonville man was sentenced Monday to a year and a half in federal prison for aiding or assisting in the preparation of a false tax return.

As part of the sentence, the court ordered Gala Powell to pay restitution to the United States in the amount of $210,000.

"Individuals thinking about participating in fraudulent tax schemes, including preparing false tax returns, should stop in their tracks and consider the consequences of taking the next step," said James D. Robnett, special agent in charge of IRS Criminal Investigation for the Tampa Field Office. "Those consequences include going to prison, being branded a felon for the rest of their lives, and paying back all the taxes owed plus steep penalties and interest."

According to court documents, from 2005 through 2008 Powell was employed as a federal income tax return preparer at Affordable Accounting Services in Jacksonville. While employed there, she prepared individual tax returns, which she knew were fraudulent in that they contained false and fictitious information concerning taxpayers' eligibility for refunds and the amount of the refunds.

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