AUGUSTA, GA – An Augusta man and his daughter are waiting on sentencing after they admitted to filing fraudulently inflated tax returns for their clients.

68-year-old Ezra Hatcher Sr. and 42-year-old Sherry Hatcher, of Augusta, pled guilty in U.S. District Court in advance of a trial scheduled for U.S. District Court, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Ezra Hatcher pled guilty to Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, and Sherry Hatcher pled guilty to Aiding and Assisting in the Filing of a False Tax Return.

“When citizens seek professional assistance in navigating our nation’s often-complex tax system, professional preparers provide substantial help in completing these necessary tasks,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “We and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate the illegal acts of preparers who violate their fiduciary duty as a means to enrich themselves.”

Per court documents and testimony, the IRS conducted an investigation of tax preparation services operated by Ezra Hatcher and Sherry Hatcher. The investigation found that from 2014 to 2018, the two services filed 21 tax returns on behalf of seven individuals, knowing the returns contained false and fraudulent information relating to Schedule C expenses, income, and earned income credits. Altogether, the returns caused the IRS to issue excess refunds amounting to nearly $75,000.

The guilty plea causes Ezra Hatcher to face a possible statutory penalty of up to five years in prison. He agrees to pay restitution of $69,682. Sherry Hatcher’s guilty plea causes her to face a possible statutory penalty of up to three years in prison. She agrees to pay restitution of $4,141. In addition, each defendant is permanently prohibited from preparing or filing federal tax returns for anyone other than themselves.

The case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigations, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Henry W. Syms Jr. and Jennifer A Stanley.