(STL.News) – Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Yvonne Spencer, 64, Madison, Wisconsin, pleaded guilty and was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge William M. Conley to one year and one day in federal prison, followed by one year of supervised release, for filing false tax returns. She was also ordered to pay restitution to the IRS, although the Court noted that full repayment by the defendant was unlikely.

An IRS investigation in 2018 revealed that Spencer had prepared and filed tax returns containing materially false information on behalf of taxpayers.  A survey of 79 tax returns filed by Spencer between 2013 and 2017 revealed that the IRS had paid out $292,872 in fraudulent tax refunds as a result of the false information.  Spencer directed $48,000 of the fraudulent refunds to herself, and also collected tax preparation fees from some taxpayers.  Spencer was able to generate the fraudulent refunds primarily by claiming business and educational expenses on behalf of taxpayers who did not in fact own businesses or attend school.  She admitted at her guilty plea that she knew information on the tax returns was false.

At sentencing, Judge Conley considered Spencer’s age, health, family ties, lack of a criminal history, and her statement that she now understood the wrongfulness of her actions.  However, in determining a prison sentence was nevertheless warranted, the judge recognized that she had used her status and skills as a tax preparer to steal a lot of money from the government over a long period of time.  Judge Conley noted that the defendant’s conduct showed a disregard for the system of collecting taxes, taxes which fund the public programs used to care for others.  While the judge considered a two-year prison sentence, he ultimately settled on a sentence of one year and one day, in light of the fact that COVID-19-related restrictions in prison made serving a sentence more difficult.

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