Elizabeth Man Sentenced To Prison For Preparing False Tax Returns

NEWARK – An Elizabeth man was sentenced today to six months in prison and six months of home confinement for preparing numerous false individual income tax returns on behalf of his clients in Jersey City, resulting in a significant tax loss to the IRS, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Michael D. Merritt, 49, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh to an information charging him with aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation to the IRS of a false and fraudulent 2007 individual income return, the 1040 form. Cavanaugh also imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made during Merritt’s guilty plea proceeding: From January 2007 through April 2009, Merritt aided nine of his clients in preparing and
submitting fraudulent 2006, 2007, and 2008 U.S. individual tax returns. Specifically, Merritt included fabricated and inflated credits and deductions – including child and dependent care expenses, tuition and fees, charitable contributions, and job expenses – in order for his clients to obtain larger refunds than they were entitled to receive. In all, Merritt defrauded the IRS of approximately $72,971.

In addition to the prison term and home confinement, Cavanaugh sentenced Merritt to two years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine.

Fishman credited special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff, with the investigation.

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