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Tax fraudsters should "be prepared to face the consequences"

ATLANTA -- With tax day right around the corner, the United States Attorney's Office and its Atlanta bureau released a warning shot Monday in the form of reminders about recent tax-related prosecutions.

Many had Gwinnett County ties.

"Nobody enjoys paying taxes," United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, "but everyone has to pay their fair share ... We urge the residents of our community to comply with their tax obligations or be prepared to face the consequences."

Most recently, a federal grand jury returned indictments against Stephen Paul Thomas, 46, and Patricia Denese Anderson, 50, both of Lawrenceville. The duo, who owned and operated an outdoor yard and furnishing store in Duluth, is accused of establishing business bank accounts with fictitious tax identification numbers and submitting false refund claims to the IRS.

The indictment was returned April 3. Anderson was arraigned Monday and released on bond. Thomas is also accused of failing to file income tax returns in 2005 and 2006.

The name of the business run by the suspects was unclear Monday.

The charges they face -- conspiring to defraud the United States and making false claims upon the IRS -- each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Last month, 49-year-old Michael Sahlgren of Buford was sentences to six months in prison following his conviction for failing to file a federal income tax return in 2004.

Sahlgren was also sentenced to community service and more than $50,000 restitution.