Crime

Indictment: Gulfport tax preparers filed false returns

GULFPORT -- Two men who ran an income tax business in Gulfport are accused of filing false tax returns for clients. One of them, the owner, also is accused of under-reporting his own income and failing to file a tax return for two years.

Jeremi Washington and Allen Brice are charged in a 16-count indictment unsealed after their initial court appearances Friday.

They pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court and are set for trial on a court calendar that starts April 4.

The indictment alleges Washington and Brice both lived in Gulfport and conspired to defraud the Internal Revenue Service from 2008 through Jan. 20, the day the indictment was filed.

Washington owned and operated Flash Financial and Allen was his only employee during the alleged conspiracy, the indictment said. The business was located in the 14400 block of Dedeaux Road.

Washington is accused of under-reporting his income for 2009 by $243,906.

He also failed to file his taxes for calendar years 2010 and 2011 although his gross revenue was more than the minimum amount required to file a return, the indictment said.

Both are accused of filing false returns for clients by claiming deductions for self-employment retirement plans, education credits and fraudulent profit and loss statements. The tax returns mentioned in the indictment were for calendar years 2009 and 2010.

The men knew their clients were not entitled to the deductions or increased their refunds beyond what they were entitled to receive, the indictment said.

Six of their clients for multiple tax years are mentioned in the indictment by initials only.

Magistrate Judge John Gargiulo set a $25,000 unsecured bond for each of them on Wednesday.

Both are charged with conspiracy to defraud the government.

Brice faces nine counts of aiding in the preparation of a false income tax return. Washington faces three counts of the same charge.

Washington also was indicted on one count of filing a false tax return and two counts of willful failure to pay income tax.

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