Two North Carolina women plead guilty to tax fraud conspiracy

Published 2:00 pm Thursday, September 22, 2022

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Two North Carolina women pleaded guilty Monday, September 19, 2022 to conspiring to defraud the United States by preparing false tax returns for clients and causing them to be filed with the IRS, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Eastern District of North Carolina. Betty Hawkins, 51, and Phyllis Ricks, 63, both of Rocky Mount, and their co-conspirators caused more than 1,000 false tax returns to be filed with the IRS that claimed a total of approximately $5 million in fraudulent refunds.

According to court documents and statements made in court, from approximately 2009 through 2018, Hawkins and Ricks conspired with others to file false tax returns for clients of the tax preparation businesses where they both worked.

“These returns included fictitious federal income tax withholding figures as well as other fraudulent items that generated fraudulent refunds the clients were not entitled to receive,” stated the release.

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Hawkins and Ricks are scheduled to be sentenced on December 16 and both face a maximum penalty of five years in prison for conspiring to defraud the United States. They also face a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors, according to the release.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Michael F. Easley made the announcement.

IRS-Criminal Investigation is investigating the case and trial attorneys Michael Jones and Mary Frances Richardson of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Menzer are prosecuting the case.