Covering Louisiana

Aug 1, 2014 12:12 PM by KATC

Investigations uncover $1.4 million in tax fraud, yield multiple arrests

Eight Louisianians were taken into custody in July for either falsely or improperly lowering the amount of taxes they were required to pay.

In four separate investigations by the Louisiana Department of Revenue and the state Office of the Attorney General, the arrests were made on charges of felony tax fraud. The investigation uncovered more than $1.4 million in fraudulent refunds and improperly reduced tax liabilities.

"These arrests demonstrate the progress we are making in attacking fraud in Louisiana through our partnership with the Attorney General's office," Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield said. "If these criminals thought of tax fraud as a low-risk, high-reward activity, they're finding out they were wrong."

"Tax fraud is not a victimless crime," Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said. "When a person cheats on their taxes, it puts the most vital services for our citizens at risk."

Arrests:

Elxzina Granger, of 311 Doc Duhon Street in Lafayette, was arrested on July 16, 2014, and charged with 13 counts each of computer fraud and filing or maintaining false public records. Granger, a tax preparer, allegedly fabricated business losses on federal and Louisiana state income tax returns for the 2012 tax year. Clients of Granger's contacted by investigators said they did not own businesses, and had not provided her with any business-related documentation for their tax filings. Granger's alleged crime resulted in $45,982 in fraudulent income tax refunds.

In a separate case, tax preparers working for We Care Tax Service at 3101 New Highway 51 in LaPlace are suspected of fabricating business losses for clients. Investigators determined that none of those clients owned a business. The alleged fraud in this case amounts to $1,175,541.

Five tax preparers at We Care Tax Service have been arrested and booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison:
· Sara Daspit-Lee, of 125 Oak Ridge Drive in LaPlace, arrested on July 22 and charged with nine counts of filing or maintaining false public records and nine counts of computer fraud

· Emile Lee III, of 125 Oak Ridge Drive in LaPlace, arrested on July 22 and charged with nine counts of filing or maintaining false public records and nine counts of computer fraud

· Johnnae Smith, of 107 4th Street in Chalmette, arrested on July 30 and charged with 11 counts each of computer fraud and filing or maintaining false public records

· Bridget Butler, of 2229 Feliciana Street in New Orleans, arrested on July 30 and charged with nine counts each of computer fraud and filing or maintaining false public records

· Delecisha Amos-Allen, of 19 Rush Drive in LaPlace, arrested on July 30 and charged with five counts each of computer fraud and filing or maintaining false public records

On Friday, July 25, investigators arrested Ashley Clement, of 2316 Ormond Boulevard in Destrehan, and booked her into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. She faces felony charges of fabricating business losses on her own Louisiana individual income tax return. Clement received $2,287 in fraudulent refunds. An additional $4,397 in attempted fraudulent refunds was blocked by the Department of Revenue's Tax Refund Intercept Program (TRIP). Clement faces one count of theft and one count of attempted theft.

And in a fourth case, Deatrice Garrison Minor, of 1516 Westminster Boulevard in Marrero, was arrested on July 30 and booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on six felony counts related to tax fraud. Minor is accused of submitting fraudulent income tax returns on behalf of clients of her business, Divine Vision Boutique & Tax Service, with addresses listed in Lafayette, Gretna and Marrero.

Investigators say that along with the improper returns, Minor submitted false W-2 withholding forms with inflated wages and withholding amounts. The clients told investigators that they had never been employed by the individuals and entities listed on the documents, and that they had never given Minor permission to file income tax returns on their behalf. Minor faces one count of injury to public records, one count of illegal transmission of monetary funds, one count of principal to theft, one count of theft, and two counts of attempted theft. The alleged fraud in this case amounts to $36,986 in theft and $136,324 in attempted theft.

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