Tax preparers get sentenced

C0RDELE — Former Cordele income tax preparers Greene Wylie Sheppard, Sabrina Johnson-Lavant and Chandra Henderson have been sentenced to serve time in federal prison for conspiring to defraud the United States by filing false tax returns and receive fraudulently inflated refunds for their clients, court officials say.

According to a statement from the U.S. Justice Department, Sheppard was sentenced to serve 56 months; Johnson-Lavant, 18 months, and Henderson eight months. In addition to conspiracy, Sheppard was also sentenced for aggravated identity theft. Sheppard was sentenced on July 11, the statement read, with Johnson-Lavant and Henderson receiving their sentences Thursday.

Officials say that Sheppard, who owned and operated Quick Tax, a tax preparation business in Cordele, conspired with his employees Johnson-Lavant and Henderson to obtain higher refunds on client’s returns by falsely inflating their wages in order to exploit certain tax credits. The co-conspirators are said to have sold other people’s identifying information to their clients, and these other identities would then be claimed as dependents on their tax returns.

Over the course of the conspiracy, which spanned a four-year period, Quick Tax claimed over $400,000 in fraudulent refunds, officials say.