Former tax preparer faces 70 years after filing false returns

ATLANTA - A Stone Mountain man faces up to 70 years in federal prison for running a fraudulent tax preparation business in Norcross last year.

Onessimus "Tony" Govereh, 28, was convicted Wednesday 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 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.

Authorities said Govereh took advantage of a particular credit - the Telephone Excise Tax Refund, or TETR - by claiming it was worth several thousand dollars.

The standard TETR is limited to between $30 and $60. It was a one-time tax credit available only in 2006.

During the first two months of 2007, Govereh filed 107 personal income tax returns with the IRS. Those returns included more than $460,000 in false TETR credits, records show.

For his services, Govereh extracted up to $800 in preparer fees from each return and forced taxpayers to split the fraudulent returns with him.

The TETR credit "was not designed as a source of income for corrupt tax return preparers," said Jeannine Hammett, an IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent. "Willfully filing a false claim with the IRS is the same as stealing."

Govereh is expected to be sentenced in federal court on March 28.