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Time to Pay Your Taxes -- Or Face the Consequences

People do go to jail for tax crimes, authorities say

Several northeast Ohioans have been charged with tax law violations in recent months, and they should serve as reminders that there are penalties for filing erroneous tax returns, a federal official said.

“Tax day is not fun, but the vast majority of Americans who properly report and pay their fair share need to know that we will aggressively prosecute those who shirk or flaunt their obligations,” Steven M. Dettelbach, US Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said in a news release.

Deadline to file tax returns this year is Tuesday, April 17.

Details of some recent cases:

Aesha Johnson, 35, was charged in March with filing false claims for fraudulent income tax returns. Johnson, of Woodmere, is accused of preparing 28 income tax returns between 2005 and 2009 in the names of other people. The total amount of false claims was $84,244.

Shanwanda Norris, 32, of Cleveland, pleaded guilty last month to six tax charges. Starting in 2009, Norris provided fictitious W-2 forms and false dependant information to tax preparation businesses. She submitted false refund claims for $27,876 and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 14.

Carol Wright, 51, of Cleveland, pleaded guilty April 2 to 36 counts of filing false tax returns. Wright worked as a tax preparer with H&R Block Eastern Tax Service in Shaker Heights. She prepared returns that falsely inflated the amounts child tax credits and dependant exemptions, among others. The total amount of false claims was $61,291. She is scheduled to be sentenced June 26.

David Tufts and Nelida Velasco, both of Chardon, pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of conspiracy to file false claims, misuse of Social Security numbers, aggravated identity theft and other charges. Tufts, 45, and Velasco, 37, conspired to file and did file at least 35 false 2008 and 2009 income tax returns in the names of 35 people without their knowledge, resulting in at least $155,000 in false claims. They are scheduled to be sentenced May 7.

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