Ge­or­gia woman charged in wide­spread tax fraud case

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

CLEVE­LAND (AP) — A Ge­or­gia woman has been charged in an al­leged con­spir­acy that prose­cu­tors said in­volved her fil­ing fraud­u­lent tax re­turns for more than 2,700 peo­ple re­ferred to her by min­is­ters in Arkansas and Can­ton, Ohio.

Prose­cu­tors said the con­spir­acy re­sulted in $3.9 mil­lion in fraud­u­lent tax re­funds in 2011.

Zi­nara High­smith, 35, of Fayettville, Ge­or­gia, was charged in an in­for­ma­tion with one count of wire fraud and one count of con­spir­acy to com­mit wire fraud. She will be sum­moned to ap­pear in fed­eral court in Cleve­land, a spokesman for the U.S. at­tor­ney's of­fice said. A crim­i­nal charge by in­for­ma­tion gen­er­ally in­di­cates that a de­fen­dant has agreed to plead guilty and to co­op­er­ate with prose­cu­tors.

The in­for­ma­tion does not name the min­is­ters. High­smith's pub­lic de­fender did not re­turn tele­phone calls.

The charges al­lege that the min­is­ters would ask mostly low-in­come mem­bers of their con­gre­ga­tions to pro­vide their names, So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers and other per­sonal data that would lead to High­smith fil­ing tax re­turns on their be­half. The con­gre­gants re­cruited oth­ers through word of mouth. The court doc­u­ment said that High­smith and peo­ple work­ing with her would file tax re­turns that claimed earned in­come credit and two spe­cial cred­its avail­able in 2010 — a credit for ed­u­ca­tion ex­penses and one called "Mak­ing Work Pay" avail­able to those with an ad­justed gross in­come of less than $95,000.

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