(STL.News) – A 40-year-old Honey Grove, Texas woman has been sentenced to federal prison for tax fraud in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Cox today.
Kristi Michelle Finney, also known as Kristi Michelle Fry, pleaded guilty on Aug. 29, 2019 to five counts of tax fraud. On July 2, 2020, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant sentenced Finney to 33 months in federal prison. Finney was also ordered to pay restitution of $359,733 to the Internal Revenue Service.
According to information presented in court, from 2013 to 2018, Finney offered tax services from her home, where she would complete and file tax returns for others at a fee of around $200. An IRS investigation linked 147 suspicious tax returns to Finney, many of which contained false employment, income, and expense information. Specifically, Finney would claim large financial losses for businesses that never existed, resulting in a larger tax refund for her clients than they would otherwise be entitled to. Finney would then divert portions of the fraudulent tax refund to herself by placing the refunds on prepaid debit cards. Finney concealed her involvement by falsely claiming that the fraudulent returns were personally prepared by her clients, rather than her. The IRS was ultimately able to identify Finney as the filer of these returns through internet protocol addresses and email addresses associated with the electronic returns, as well as through witness interviews.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Wes Wynne.