Paula M. Pendleton, 53, of Augusta, was charged by a federal grand jury last week in a 13-count indictment for conspiring to defraud the United States, assisting in the preparation of false tax returns and witness tampering.
If convicted, Pendleton faces a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment for the conspiracy charge, three years for each count of assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, and 20 years for the witness tampering charge. Each of these charges also carries a fine of up to $250,000.
According to a news release, the indictment alleges Pendleton conspired to obtain names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers to prepare and file false income tax returns, and then attempt to conceal such acts.
“The deadline has come for the so-called tax ‘professional’ whose business model involves buying and selling identity information that is used to prepare and file false tax returns that generate large fraudulent refunds,” U.S. Attorney Edward J. Tarver said in a statement.
“The IRS-Criminal Investigation Division takes these alleged violations very seriously,” said Rodney E. Clarke, the special agent in charge of the Atlanta Field Office. “The indictment of Paula Pendleton again emphasizes that the Internal Revenue Service and United States Attorney’s Office will continue their aggressive pursuit of those who would willfully attempt to defraud America’s tax system.”