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Duluth man among those charged with tax fraud

ATLANTA - Federal authorities are sending the message that tax season is no time to slight Uncle Sam.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Friday a former Duluth man and Gainesville woman join a long list of people recently indicted - or sent to federal prison - for tax-related fraud cases. The announcement comes as the April 15 tax-filing deadline approaches.

The filing deadline "should not serve as a temptation to cheat on taxes, for either taxpayers or tax preparers," said United States Attorney David E. Nahmias. "The ones who cheat take money away from everyone who pays his or her share."

Indicted this week were Jerry Lahr, 64, formerly of Duluth and now of Hurst, Texas, and Jacqueline Demer, 49, of Gainesville. Both face charges of conspiring to impede the IRS in assessing Lahr's federal income taxes.

Both Lahr and Demer allegedly used so-called "shell companies" to conceal income and assets, and allegedly passed fictitious obligations, also called fake bonds. Their relationship was unclear Friday.

They face a maximum prison term of 25 years and a fine of up to $250,000, as well as full restitution, said U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Patrick Crosby.

The federal push against tax fraud doesn't stop there. Other recent tax cases involving people living in or near Gwinnett include:

· Sherry Peel Jackson, 45, of Stone Mountain, was sentenced Feb. 14 to four years in federal prison. The former IRS Revenue Agent was convicted on four counts of failure to file her individual tax returns between 2000 and 2003.

Beginning in 2000, Jackson operated a tax preparation business and continued to prepare, submit and file individual tax returns for her clients.

However, for the next three years Jackson intentionally did not file her own tax returns, despite an income of over $400,000 during that time period.

· Onessimus "Tony" Govereh, 28, of Stone Mountain, was convicted in January on 14 counts of making false claims to the IRS. Authorities said Govereh operated a fraudulent Norcross business called "Kingdom Tax Service" to skim money from more than 100 tax returns in early 2007.

Govereh faces up to 70 years in federal prison. He could also be ordered to pay a maximum fine of $250,000 per count.

Govereh registered "Kingdom Tax Service" with the IRS as an electronic return originator in late 2006, promising customers high returns with quick turnarounds, according to court documents.