Rocky Mount Tax Preparer Jailed on State Tax Charges

Date: 12/9/2003

RALEIGH – An Edgecombe County tax preparer was sentenced to an active prison term Monday in Wake County District Court on felony tax charges filed by the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

Ellis Lawrence, 45, of 643 Myrtle Ave., Rocky Mount, entered guilty pleas to 19 counts of aiding or assisting in the preparation of fraudulent North Carolina individual income tax returns.

Wake County District Court Judge Henry W. Hight, Jr. sentenced Lawrence to an 11-month minimum, 14-month maximum prison term. Lawrence was remanded to the custody of the state Department of Corrections and escorted from the courtroom by a Wake County Sheriff's deputy. Lawrence was also ordered to pay court costs and attorney fees of $585.

The state's evidence showed Lawrence willfully aided or assisted in the preparation of 19 fraudulent federal and state income tax returns. Lawrence overstated the itemized deductions listed on his clients' income tax returns, thereby reducing both their federal and state taxable incomes. The deductions were inflated without the knowledge or consent of his clients.

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

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