Xenia man sentenced for filing $445k in fraudulent tax returns

A Xenia man was sentenced this week to 18 months in prison and three months of supervised release, and ordered to repay $445,450 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, after pleading guilty in July to tax fraud charges.

Federal court documents say Robert Coates, 42, filed false claims for income tax refunds with the IRS between January and July 2012.

Coates claimed to be a tax preparer in Xenia, according to federal officials, and solicited clients by word of mouth and with a flyer distributed around Xenia. He told clients he could get them an income tax refund even if they didn’t work or were receiving disability payments.

But Coates included fraudulent income amounts in the tax filings, unbeknownst to his clients, to get a larger earned income tax credit than they qualified for. He also filed false educational expenses to maximize refunds. He then diverted a portion of the refunds into his own bank accounts, according to federal officials.

Coates filed a total of 170 false tax returns for the 2011 tax year, according to federal officials, causing a loss to the IRS of $445,450 — of which $167,422 was directed to Coates’ accounts.

“IRS Criminal Investigation stands ready to investigate anyone who would put a taxpayer at risk for a quick profit,” said Kathy A. Enstrom, special agent in charge of IRS criminal investigation in the Cincinnati field office.

“Our special agents use their investigative and financial expertise to detect and hold accountable abusive tax return preparers who falsely tell taxpayers they are eligible for tax credits that they are not entitled to receive.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alex R. Sistla. The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Black.

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