Woman pleads guilty to tax fraud

Published 9:59 pm Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Suffolk woman pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday to charges connected with a tax fraud scheme that cost the government about $1.6 million, according to the Department of Justice.

Stephanie Towns, 43, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and aiding the preparation of a false tax return, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Towns faces a maximum penalty of eight years in prison when she receives her sentence on Sept. 27, though federal judges often issue lower penalties than the maximum allowed by law.

Towns was one of the principal tax preparers for A Plus Tax Service and NN Financial, which operated at different points between July 2009 and February 2014.

“Towns, along with co-defendants Brenda Benn and Kevin Towns, conspired to operate a business based on creating false tax returns that generated inflated refunds for their clients in order to cultivate good will and generate repeat business,” the press release stated.

Investigators said that, without receiving direction from their clients to do so, the trio increased their clients’ refunds by claiming false education-related expenses, by claiming excessively high donations and by manipulating the amount of income in order to take advantage of other tax credits.

U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson accepted the plea, and U.S. Attorney Randy Stoker is prosecuting the case.