Crime

Prison sentence extended for woman who prepared $769,000 worth of false tax returns

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You have several options for paying your federal income taxes. If you can't go to an IRS office, you can visit IRS.gov and click Pay Your Tax Bill.

A federal judge has extended the prison sentence for Evelyn Johnson, an East St. Louis tax preparer who pleaded guilty to filing $769,000 in false tax returns in 2015, citing her “courtroom antics” as a reason.

In February 2018, federal prosecutors charged Johnson, 57, with failure to surrender for service of sentence after she refused to go to prison to serve the 18 months in prison she was sentenced to in January 2018.

On Wednesday, Judge Michael J. Reagan tacked on 30 more months to run consecutively to the original sentence, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois stated.

According to the release, Johnson claimed she was not a U.S. citizen subject to the law, that she was not the defendant and that she was not “Evelyn Johnson.” She also contested the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court of Southern Illinois.

Her case went to trial and a jury found her guilty of the failing to surrender charge, the release stated. At her sentencing hearing, the district court found that she had engaged in repeated acts of obstructive, disobedient conduct and had committed perjury when she testified at trial. These were both considered aggravating factors to the sentencing.

In January 2018, Johnson plead guilty to 29 counts of preparing and submitting false federal tax returns in 2015 when she was operating as E.J. Johnson Tax Service in East St. Louis. The Internal Revenue Service had detected a potential pattern of fraudulent returns and sent an undercover IRS agent to have their taxes prepared from her business, which promised a “refund guarantee” to customers. Johnson prepared a false return for the agent that falsified itemized deductions.

At the time, the IRS estimated the U.S. lost more than $769,000 from Johnson’s tax fraud.

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Hana Muslic has been a public safety reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat since August 2018, covering everything from crime and courts to accidents, fires and natural disasters. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and her previous work can be found in The Lincoln Journal-Star and The Kansas City Star.
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