AUGUSTA, GA: A Richmond County man and his daughter have been sentenced after admitting they filed fraudulently inflated tax returns on behalf of clients.
Ezra Hatcher Sr., 67, of Hephzibah, Ga., was sentenced to 24 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $69,682 in restitution after previously pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Hatcher’s daughter, Sherry Hatcher, 42, of Augusta, was sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to pay $4,141 in restitution after previously pleading guilty to Aiding and Assisting in the Filing of a False Tax Return.
In addition, each defendant is permanently prohibited from preparing or filing federal tax returns for anyone other than themselves.
“Family run small businesses are the backbone of American free enterprise, and the Hatchers could have established themselves as honorable participants in the tax preparation business,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “Instead, serial scam artist Ezra Hatcher made a business of defrauding taxpayers, and he and his daughter are being held accountable for their crimes.”
As described in court documents and testimony, an IRS investigation of tax preparation services operated by Ezra Hatcher and Sherry Hatcher determined that from 2014 to 2018, their tax services filed 21 tax returns containing fraudulent information on behalf of seven individuals. The returns included false information relating to Schedule C expenses, income, and earned income credits, causing the IRS to issue excess refunds amounting to nearly $75,000.
Ezra Hatcher previously served a federal prison sentence for preparing false income tax returns after pleading guilty in 1998.
“The Hatchers abused their clients’ trust in an effort to fraudulently gain more funds,” said IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge James E. Dorsey. “The sentencing is proof we are holding return preparers accountable. To help detect these schemes and avoid getting a surprise IRS audit bill, it’s important to pick an honest, transparent return preparer and not the one who promises a big refund. Always review your return with your return preparer and ask questions.”
The case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigations, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Henry W. Syms Jr. and Jennifer A Stanley.