2022 | Courts

Germantown woman pleads guilty to helping prepare false tax returns

IRS lost more than $217,000, according to authorities

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A Germantown woman pleaded guilty Monday to helping prepare false tax returns, causing the IRS to lose more than $217,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.

Shanta Johnson, 44, worked at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from 2013 through at least 2016,according to her plea. On the side, she prepared and filed tax returns on behalf of her clients during the same period., Some, but not all, of the returns were prepared while she was at work at FEMA, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Johnson included false items on the tax returns such as fake deductions, businesses and business expenses with the goal of increasing her clients’ tax refunds, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In many cases, Johnson allegedly directed a portion of her clients’ refunds into more than 20 bank accounts she oversaw.  

Johnson prepared at least 194 tax returns, using numerous email accounts that contained the names of her clients in order to make it appear that the clients were preparing their own returns, according to the plea agreement. Johnson’s actions caused a tax loss to the IRS totaling $217,424, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Johnson will be sentenced Aug. 30 and could face between 6 and 15 months in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Sarah Mali Hall, an attorney who represents Johnson, declined to comment to Bethesda Beat on Tuesday afternoon.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com