Tax Centers of America Franchisee Pleads Guilty to Preparing False Returns

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

PITTSBURGH, PA – A resident of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of Aiding or Assisting in the Preparation or Filing of False Federal Income Tax Returns, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.

John C. Thornton, age 74, of Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to two counts before United States District Judge Marilyn J. Horan.

According to information presented to court, Thornton owned and operated Tax Centers of America franchises in Pittsburgh. Between 2012 and 2017, IRS investigators uncovered high pattern of personal income tax returns containing Schedule C forms. Investigators uncovered falsification of Schedule C forms prepared and filed by Thornton and tax preparers at his business.

Judge Horan scheduled sentencing for June 21, 2022. The law provides for a total sentence of not more than three years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Gregory C. Melucci is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Thornton.