FEMA Employee Facing Federal Indictment In Maryland For Preparing Fraudulent Tax Returns For Herself And 11 Clients | USAO-MD

Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury has indicted Shanta Johnson, age 43, of Germantown, Maryland, on the federal charges of aiding and assisting in the filing of false tax returns and subscribing to false tax returns.  The indictment was returned on July 13, 2020, and was unsealed at her initial appearance today.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Karen Jordan of the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG), Washington, D.C. Field Office.  

According to the indictment, Johnson – who is a program analyst at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency – prepared false and fraudulent tax returns from her home as well as from her workplace.  Johnson allegedly prepared fraudulent tax returns for 11 clients for tax years 2014 and 2015.  Johnson reported inflated or fictitious deductions for gifts to charity and unreimbursed employee expenses; false profits or losses to either inflate or reduce her clients’ earned income; and entirely fictitious expenses for educational institutions her clients had not attended.  For example, as detailed in the indictment, Johnson reported for Client A fraudulent unreimbursed employee expenses of $8,125.  The falsities that Johnson created and reported to the IRS reduced tax liabilities for her clients and increased tax credits, including the Earned Income Credit, and refunds for the client-taxpayers.

Further, the indictment alleges that Johnson did not report the money she received from preparing clients’ tax returns on her own tax returns and she falsely reported net business losses to reduce her own reported income.

If convicted, Johnson faces a maximum sentence of three years in federal prison for each of the 18 counts of aiding and assisting in the filing of a false tax return; and for each of the three counts of making and subscribing to a false tax return.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 

An indictment is not a finding of guilt.  An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings. 

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the IRS-CI, and DHS-OIG for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Bernstein, who is prosecuting the case.

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