Metro-East News

Operator of Tax King in East St. Louis pleads guilty to fraud

The operator of an East St. Louis tax preparation business pleaded guilty to charges that he filed fraudulent income tax returns in order to scam the federal government out of money.

Eyob Tilahun, 30, of St. Louis operated several Tax King locations in St. Louis and one in East St. Louis. Court papers say Tilahun and his employees profited from the scheme by charging clients fees to prepare income tax returns that ended up being fraudulent.

Conspirators, who included employees who hail from the metro-east, also profited from tips they made on top of fees paid by clients.

Specifically, Tilahun and his employees falsified clients’ business income and wages to make them eligible for larger returns, filed false education expenses to make clients eligible for certain tax credits and falsified fuel tax reports to make clients eligible for fuel tax credits.

Tilahun will be sentenced Aug. 26.

Four other defendants have already pleaded guilty to involvement in the scheme. They are:

▪  Mason B. Richmond, 31, of St. Louis

▪  Lakesha R. Wilson, 30, of East St. Louis

▪  Tanesa L. Beverly, 32, of Belleville

▪  Melissa L. Wiley, 34, of Granite City

Trials for two additional employees — Edric A. Russell, 35, and Pierre J. Carter, 33, both of East St. Louis — will begin in August.

Tobias Wall: 618-239-2501, @Wall_BND