Colorado Springs woman sentenced for tax fraud scheme

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Colorado Springs woman was sentenced in federal court Tuesday for her role in a tax fraud scheme, according to Tom Larson, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Officials say 41-year-old Kalena Latoya Winston was sentenced to five years and three months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Winston to pay $254,893 in restitution to the IRS. She has remained in federal custody since her arrest in Colorado in February 2016.

Officials say Winston operated a return preparation scheme for the 2011 and 2012 tax years. She solicited clients living in Colorado, Kansas and Tennessee and prepared and submitted the returns electronically.

Most of the false returns were filed with the IRS service center in Kansas City.

Winston’s main practice was to include false Schedule C businesses on her clients’ returns in in order to increase the amount of the refunds by qualifying them for – or maximizing – the Earned Income Tax Credit. Officials say she also occasionally claimed false dependents on the tax returns.

Additionally, on two occasions, she used the personal identifying information the client provided her for the 2010 tax year in order to file a return without that client’s knowledge or permission for the following tax year.

Winston also received debit cards containing the tax refunds from the false returns. She listed the addresses of her co-conspirators instead of the addresses of her clients on the returns so she could maintain control over the refunds.

Winston pleaded guilty on October 13, 2016.

Co-defendant 38-year-old Pete Scott of Spring Hill, Florida, pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy on November 17, 2016. He admitted that he distributed the refund debit cards to the taxpayers after money had already been withdrawn from the cards.

Scott is currently awaiting sentencing.



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