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Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana Alex Van Hook has announced that a local tax preparer has been indicted on charges of tax fraud.

A federal grand jury has indicted 56-year-old Deborah Cooksey of Minden for filing false tax returns twice. This does not mean Cooksey has been found guilty, this is simply an accusation confirmed by a grand jury. Cooksey remains innocent until proven guilty.

The charges allege that Cooksey, the owner and operator of Cooksey's Tax and Notary Service, LLC of Minden, created false tax returns for the years of 2013 and 2014. The two allegations say that the tax form for the 2013 year reported "gross receipts and sales" of $522,662 dollars for her tax preparation business. For the year 2014, Cooksey allegedly filed tax forms showing  "gross receipts and sales" of $459,361. In both of those years, authorities say in both of those years, Cooksey knew that her "gross receipts and sales" from her business were well above those numbers.

In addition to investigations from the US Attorney's office, the Internal Revenue Service is helping to investigate the case.

According to criminaldefenselawyer.com, the penalties for Federal Tax Fraud can be wide ranging, including:

  • Prison. Prison terms for tax fraud can be significant. For example, a conviction for single count of tax evasion can result in a prison term of up to five years. Convictions on multiple counts of the same crime, or multiple violations of different crimes, can greatly lengthen prison sentences.
  • Fines. Fines for violating federal tax laws are very steep. A conviction for tax evasion, as well as several other tax crimes, can result in a fine of up to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations. Other tax fraud crimes have maximum penalties of $100,000 for individuals and $250,000 for corporations. Courts can impose fines in addition to, or separate from, prison or probation sentences.
  • Restitution. Tax fraud cases also typically involve restitution orders. When a court orders restitution, it orders the person convicted of tax fraud to repay the amount of taxes they failed to pay to the state or federal government. Restitution is typically ordered in addition to any other penalties.
  • Costs of prosecution. Federal law also allows a court to order someone convicted of tax fraud to pay for the costs of prosecution, in addition to fines or restitution. The costs of prosecuting a tax fraud case differ, but they can easily reach $5,000 or more.
  • Probation. Courts may also sentence someone convicted of tax fraud to probation. Probation sentences usually last at least a year, but sentences of three years or longer are possible. Those on probation have to comply with the court's orders or risk having their probation extended, paying additional fines, being sent to prison, or other penalties. People on probation must comply with specific conditions while serving the sentence. These include regularly meeting with and reporting to a probation officer, contacting the officer if you're ever arrested, maintain employment, and a range of other requirements.

No details were released for further court dates in this case.

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