Crime & Courts

2 men admit to filing hundreds of false tax returns

Two Charlotte-area tax return preparers pleaded guilty in separate cases Thursday to helping file hundreds of false tax returns, Acting U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose said.

Fitzroy Lawrence, 48, pleaded guilty to one count of aiding or assisting in filing a false claim against the United States. The charge carries a maximum five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Lawrence admitted to filing hundreds of false returns seeking a total of about $2.6 million in fraudulent tax refunds, Rose said.

Lawrence admitted to helping file fraudulent returns for tax years 2008 through 2011, many of which included false wages and false dependent information, prosecutors said.

As part of his plea agreement, Lawrence agreed to pay restitution to be determined by a judge. Lawrence’s sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled, and he is free on bail.

In the other case, Malik Shropshire, 43, of Charlotte, admitted to conspiring to file false tax returns and lying on a loan application, Rose announced.

Shropshire pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to impede the IRS and one count of making a false statement on a loan application.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for the false statement on a loan application is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Shropshire is free on bail pending sentencing.

Shropshire’s conspirator, his sister Nkhenge Shropshire, was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison in October 2014 in a related case.

Prosecutors said Malik Shropshire and his conspirators recruited people to have their tax returns prepared by promising large refunds. For tax years 2008 through 2011, Shropshire helped prepare hundreds of false tax returns that were filed with the IRS, court records show.

Most of the returns were false because, in part, they included false Schedule C businesses, false dependents and false refundable education credits, prosecutors said. As a result, the taxpayers’ tax liabilities decreased, the taxpayers received larger tax refunds, and the taxpayers qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Marusak: 704-358-5067;

Twitter: @jmarusak

  Comments