Tax preparer guilty of filing fraudulent returns

By Andy Matarrese, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

Published:

 

A Camas tax preparer pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to preparing more than 50 fraudulent tax returns, resulting in between $250,000 to $500,000 in lost taxes, according to the Department of Justice.

Paula Odia, 43, who now lives in Vancouver, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to assisting in filing false tax documents.

Odia prepared customers income tax filings from her Camas home between 2011 and 2016. The Department of Justice said most of her clients were unaware she had fudged their tax returns, or that she funneled money from their refunds to her or family members’ bank accounts.

The Justice Department said Odia, in 2011, started claiming illegitimate deductions and credits in her clients’ tax returns. The false deductions reduced her clients’ tax obligations and meant bigger tax returns.

Odia would divert a piece of that money to accounts under her or a family member’s control.

When she provided copies of the returns, they didn’t reflect what she filed with the IRS, according to the Justice Department, so clients wouldn’t see the diverted refund money.

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Bryan scheduled Odia’s sentencing for Jan. 5, 2018.

Assisting in filing false tax documents is punishable by up to three years in prison, one year of supervised release, and a $100,000 fine, the Justice Department said.

As part of her plea agreement, Odia agreed to pay restitution for the tax loss, as determined by the court.