Press Release: U.S. Department of Justice
TALLAHASSEE – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida announced that Kenneth L. Barber, 62, of Tallahassee, Florida, was sentenced today in federal court to serve 87 months in prison on charges of wire fraud, preparing false tax returns, making a false statement to a bank, and conspiracy to commit tax fraud.
On April 10, 2013, a federal jury found Barber guilty after a three day trial. At trial, the government presented evidence that Barber ran and operated a local tax preparation business where he encouraged preparers to falsify clients’ tax returns. Barber’s former employees, including his two co-defendants, Shavita Altrecia Davis and Anthony Tyree Barber, testified that Barber trained them on how to prepare fraudulent returns to increase the clients’ tax refunds. At Barber’s instruction and direction, the employees filed returns falsifying income, deductions, credits, dependents, and filing status to obtain inflated tax refunds and to limit the tax due to the IRS. At the trial and at the sentencing hearing, a government expert witness testified that the tax scheme resulted in a loss of more than $700,000. Barber also made false statements to a financial institution to qualify for loans totaling more than $300,000.
The court also sentenced Barber to serve five years of supervised release following his prison term, and ordered him to pay restitution and special monetary assessments. In addition, the court entered an order of forfeiture in the amount of $131,781.00. The restitution will be determined at a later date. Barber’s co-defendant, Shavita Davis, was sentenced to serve twenty-four months in prison, while co-defendant Anthony Barber was sentenced to serve six months in prison, as well as six months of home detention.
“IRS Criminal Investigation takes tax refund fraud seriously and criminal violations, like the ones for which Mr. Barber was convicted, have serious consequences,” stated James D. Robnett, Special Agent in Charge of the Tampa Field Office of IRS Criminal Investigation. Mr. Robnett added, “The community should heed the cautionary tale of this case, and choose professional tax preparers carefully. Through aggressive, impartial enforcement of the tax laws, IRS is putting those unscrupulous preparers on notice that we are watching.”
The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, Pamela C. Marsh, praised the work of the Internal Revenue Service, whose investigation led to the convictions in the case. She added, “The Department of Justice will continue to aggressively pursue and bring to justice those who defraud the public, engage in illegal schemes, abuse positions of trust, and willfully undermine the entire tax system.”
Barber was sentenced by United States District Judge Robert L. Hinkle.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Winifred Acosta NeSmith.