Missouri man gets 51 months in prison for preparing fraudulent tax returns

(The Center Square) – A Missouri man was sentenced to 51 months in prison for preparing 23 fraudulent federal income tax returns.

U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey sentenced Darius Cobb, 52, on Tuesday. He also was ordered to pay restitution of $85,584.

Cobb pleaded guilty in April to two felony counts of aiding in the preparation of a false and fraudulent federal income tax return. Cobb prepared approximately 200 tax returns during the tax years of 2017 and 2018, according to a media release from the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Missouri. He included fake W-2 forms with false wages and withholdings. He filed false Schedule C forms reporting a profit or a loss from a business even if the taxpayer was not a business owner.

He also included false claims for the American Opportunity Credit for educational expenses and false information about independents.

“Mr. Cobb admitted that he knowingly prepared false returns for others in order to illegally obtain inflated refunds for his clients,” Bill Steenson, assistant special agent with IRS criminal investigations in the St. Louis Field Office, said in a statement. “We work alongside our partners in the U.S. Attorney’s Office throughout the year to investigate and prosecute dishonest tax return preparers. Let this be a warning to others who may be thinking about engaging in this type of illicit activity.”

During the plea in April, Cobb admitted the 23 fraudulent tax returns created losses of more than $500,000. The total losses from Cobbs’ crimes were approximately $517,021, according to the plea agreement.

Cobb was originally scheduled to be sentenced on July 11, according to information provided in April’s plea of guilty. The maximum penalty for each charge was three years in prison and a $250,000 fine or both.

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