A former Baton Rouge tax preparer was sentenced Thursday to a 30-month prison term after admitting that she falsified customers’ tax credits.
Melissa Michelle Edwards, 33, also was ordered by Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson to pay restitution of $56,040 to the Internal Revenue Service.
A written statement by U.S. Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux Jr. said the judge concluded the government’s estimated tax loss ranged between $400,000 and $1 million.
Edwards worked with Cynthia Marie Peters at the now-closed Jasmine and Melissa’s Tax Service in Baton Rouge.
Peters was sentenced in April to a 27-month prison term by U.S. District Judge Frank J. Polozola. She admitted that she falsified clients’ tax returns. The judge also ordered Peters to pay restitution of $76,908 to the IRS.
In May, Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Gaupp of Baton Rouge and Justice Department trial attorney Gregory S. Seador of Washington, D.C., filed a civil suit against Edwards and Peters.
In their filing with U.S. District Judge James J. Brady, Gaupp and Seador alleged that fraudulent tax returns prepared by Peters and Edwards actually cost the IRS more than $7 million.
Gaupp and Seador argued that the two women should be banned for life from the tax preparation business.
On July 13, Seador and James Rothkamm, attorney for both Peters and Edwards, filed with Brady a stipulated permanent injunction banning the women from tax preparation work.
But the proposed injunction does not say how much money the IRS is estimated to have lost because of the two women and does not repeat the reference to the $7 million.
“Peters and Edwards admit that the court has subject matter and personal jurisdiction over them, but deny the wrongdoing alleged in the complaint,” the proposed injunction states.
The proposed injunction also states that it does not “constitute an admission of any kind by either party.”
As of Thursday night, Brady had not signed the proposed injunction in the public court file.