NASHVILLE, Tenn. – November 4, 2020 – A Collinwood, Tennessee tax preparer was sentenced yesterday to 21 months in federal prison for preparing false tax returns for clients, announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Steve Lewis Newell, 73, was charged in September 2019 with three counts of preparing false tax returns. He pleaded guilty to all counts in November 2019. U.S. District Court Judge Eli J. Richardson also ordered Newell to pay $230,066in restitution to te IRS.
According to court documents, Newell ed and controlled Tax Masters and Accounting in Collinwood and assisted in the preparation of individual tax returns on behalf of his clients. Between 2014 and 2018, Newell prepared and filed more than 7,700 federal income tax returns, several of which contained inflated or fictitious deductions in Schedule A, including state and local taxes, charitable contributions, and employee business expenses. Newell also falsified other items on his clients’ tax returns, such as the filing status of the taxpayer. Each of these fraudulent misrepresentations served to lower the tax liability for his clients.
The scheme resulted in clients obtaining refunds, which they were not entitled to and caused a tax loss to the IRS of at least $230,000.
Court documents also reveal that Newell’s fraudulent tax schemes date back to the 1990’s when he was caught aiding and assisting in the filing of false tax returns—the same crime for which he was sentenced in this case. He eventually pleaded guilty to these charges and was to report to federal prison in February 2002. Newell however, sent false medical records to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and to the Court, claiming that he was terminally ill. Newell also submitted a forged affidavit from a physician, which stated that he only had three months to live. This resulted in numerous continuances by the Court to delay Newell’s report date to prison. IRS agents later discovered that Newell had fraudulently obtained the records of a patient who had died from colon cancer and altered the records to reflect that he was terminally ill. Newell had submitted a medical release form to the patient’s physician claiming to need the records for IRS purposes. Agents also discovered that during this period, Newell had continued to perform tax work, despite the Court’s order not to engage in tax work as a condition of his delay in reporting to prison. Newell subsequently pleaded guilty in 2004 to charges arising from that conduct. Also in 2004, Newell pleaded guilty to additional crimes of making false statements to the IRS when he prepared and filed false tax forms for a company for which he was the tax return preparer. For all these crimes he was sentenced to 43 months in prison.
This case was investigated by the IRS-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Booth prosecuted the case.
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