A Williamsburg woman is facing up to three years in a federal prison for assisting in the preparation of false income tax returns that cost the government nearly $60,000 in underpaid federal income taxes.
Lisa Renay Ponder, 34, pleaded guilty Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court to an information that charged between Jan. 29, 2001, and April 9, 2003, she assisted in the preparation of false income tax returns that represented that taxpayers were entitled to claim deduction amounts for items when she knew the taxpayers were not entitled to claim those amounts, according to a press release from the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
Ponder told U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves that she worked from the basement of her house charging customers $34 to prepare their tax returns, and that she is still doing so on a limited basis.
“I’m not doing many now. I’m being careful,” she told Reeves when he asked about her employment.
She said most of her customers were honest people, but that there were a few, who she felt sorry for, and wanted to get a bigger return for.
“I plead guilty your honor. It’s true I put false information down. I felt sorry for them. I would put down information I knew wasn’t right,” she told Reeves.
Ponder allegedly prepared and assisted in the filing of 77 individual income tax returns with false deduction amounts that caused 39 taxpayers to underpay their federal income taxes by $59,737.
Part of Ponder’s plea agreement calls for her to make a full and complete financial disclosure to the government, and to submit to a deposition.
Ponder faces a possible sentence of up to three years in prison, a $100,000 fine, and up to a year of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.
Reeves scheduled sentencing for May 23 at 11 a.m. in U.S. District Court in London, and released Ponder on her own recognizance until then.
The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division conducted the investigation preceding the information.
An information is a criminal complaint brought against a defendant that is similar to an indictment but a prosecutor rather than a grand jury issues it.
An information is frequently used as a means of expediting cases in federal court when a defendant wishes to plead guilty to a case that has been under investigation.
A defendant has to waive their right to an indictment when entering a guilty plea through an information, which Ponder did in this case.
Ponder’s attorney, Paul Croley of Williamsburg, declined to comment on the case.
Assistant United States Attorney John Patrick Grant said he wasn’t at liberty to comment on the case.
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