Rockingham Tax Preparer Guilty of State Tax Charges

Date: 3/2/2004

A Richmond County woman pleaded guilty on Monday in Wake County District Court to felony charges filed by the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

Stephanie Michelle Hernandez, 29, of 117 Madison Ave. in Rockingham, pleaded guilty to nine felony counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of fraudulent North Carolina individual income tax returns.

Wake County District Court Judge Paul Gessner consolidated six of the felony counts into one judgment and sentenced Hernandez to four, consecutive six-month minimum, eight-month maximum prison terms. The sentences were suspended and Hernandez was placed on supervised probation for 60 months. Hernandez was ordered to pay a $1,000 criminal fine, perform 100 hours of community service, pay a $200 community service fee and a $35 fee for her seven-day stay during January in the Wake County jail. Hernandez was further ordered not to aid, assist, advise or counsel in the preparation, presentation or filing of any tax returns other than her own while on probation.

The state’s evidence showed Hernandez willfully aided or assisted in the preparation of nine fraudulent federal and state income tax returns by inflating the number of personal exemptions on her clients’ returns. According to court statements, Hernandez prepared these fraudulent returns without her clients’ knowledge.

The charges against Hernandez resulted from an investigation by a special agent with the Department of Revenue’s Criminal Investigations Division.

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