Tax preparer Mylove D. Tetterton of East Orange, New Jersey is currently awaiting a sentence of up to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to “money laundering and trafficking in personal identifying information” in April 2019. She also admitted to “theft by deception and misconduct by a corporate official in connection with tax fraud against the state of New Jersey and the United States,” according to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General (OAG). Along with nearly two dozen other New Jersey residents, all of whom were snared by the same indictment in 2018, Tetterton was charged with tax fraud involving the state of Hawaii, whose Department of Taxation worked with New Jersey’s Division of Taxation to investigate the case, dubbed “Operation Coast to Coast.” Tetteron, along with other defendants, was also indicted on charges of “conspiracy… theft by deception, and receiving stolen property,” in addition to forgery. Tetterton’s husband, Anthony Hodges, was sentenced to five years in prison in November after pleading guilty to conspiracy.
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In April of 2019, Tetterton pleaded guilty to “money laundering and trafficking in personal identifying information,” in connection with schemes to defraud the Hawaii government. Now Tetterton faces considerable time in prison, though sentencing for various offenses would run concurrently, rather than consecutively. In addition, she has been ordered to pay restitution: approximately $22,500 to the IRS, and approximately $56,500 to the New Jersey Division of Taxation, for a total of nearly $80,000. Tetterton is also liable for “full restitution” to the Hawaii Department of Taxation, which she defrauded out of nearly $250,000 (of an attempted $400,000, with multiple filings rejected).
Tetterton, 45, was previously the owner of Mylove’s Tax Service, a tax preparation business located in Jersey City. In the Hawaii scheme, Tetterton “filed 65 fraudulent Hawaii tax returns for tax year 2013,” despite the fact that none of the 65 taxpayers had ever “resided in or earned wages in Hawaii.” Like other return preparers who have been prosecuted for similar crimes, Tetterton used stolen information to prepare various returns, “including personal identifying information of people who were deceased.”
The purpose of the scheme was to fraudulently obtain tax refunds from the state of Hawaii. After the refunds were issued, Tetterton “directed her co-conspirators to cash or deposit the checks and turn over a large share of the money to her.” According to the OAG, substantial portions of the funds were used “to gamble in Atlantic City.”
Other taxpayers charged in the indictment included Constantine Kunaka, 27, who faces a three-year sentence and restitution exceeding $238,000; and Reginald Haines, 51, who received a three-year sentence for conspiracy. At least 12 of the defendants were sentenced to, or face sentencing of, probation, with an additional six to enter Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) programs.
Government agencies work together to track tax offenders across state lines (and into other countries). If you owe taxes to the state of California, you can expect agencies like the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) or California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) to eventually locate you for a tax audit – or a criminal tax investigation. If you are a California resident who owes taxes to other states, you can likewise be targeted by those states’ taxing authorities, and/or by the IRS.
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At the state or federal level, having unfiled tax returns and unpaid taxes places you in grave danger – particularly where the taxing authority has reasons to suspect fraud. Special scrutiny is given to tax preparers and other tax professionals, with return preparer fraud even appearing on the IRS Dirty Dozen list for 2019.
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Whether you are a professional return preparer or you have minimal tax experience, you can face harsh civil and criminal penalties if convicted of a tax crime. Minimize the risk by working with an experienced IRS tax attorney, who can help you achieve tax compliance while fighting criminal charges or providing audit representation. For a reduced-rate consultation, contact the Tax Law Office of David W. Klasing online today, or call (800) 681-1295 for assistance.
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