Date: June 26, 2020
NEW ORLEANS, La. – A federal grand jury in New Orleans returned an 11-count indictment today charging Jason R. Williams of New Orleans, and Nicole E. Burdett of Kenner, Louisiana, with conspiracy to defraud the United States, aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation of false and fraudulent tax returns, and failure to file IRS Forms 8300 relating to cash received in trade or business.
According to the indictment, Jason R. Williams is the owner of Jason Rogers Williams &Associates, LLC Law Firm (JRWA), located in New Orleans. Williams also currently serves as a Councilman-at-Large on the New Orleans City Council. Nicole E. Burdett is an attorney at JRWA and performs administrative functions for the firm. Burdett is responsible for paying the law firm bills, receiving client payments, and inputting and maintaining the firm's books and records in the accounting program "QuickBooks" and other software programs.
According to the indictment, Williams and Burdett conspired to reduce Williams' tax liability for the 2013 through 2017 tax years by classifying personal expenses as business expenses on the "Schedule C" (Profit and Loss from a Business) portion of Williams' tax returns. Specifically, for the 2013 through 2017 tax years, Burdett compiled QuickBooks information that included many personal expenses of Jason Williams and provided this false information to the tax preparer for the preparation of tax returns. Throughout the conspiracy, Burdett, at the direction of Williams, would instruct the tax preparer to artificially increase the business expenses on the Schedule C in order to further reduce Williams' tax liability. After Williams and Burdett were satisfied with the tax liability amount, Burdett instructed the tax preparer to electronically file the returns with the IRS.
Throughout the course of the conspiracy, Williams' and Burdett's conduct caused fraudulent tax returns to be filed on behalf of Williams, which reflected inflated Schedule C business expenses in the amounts of approximately $200,000 for 2013, $90,000.00 for 2014, $170,000.00 for 2015, $140,000 for 2016, and $120,000.00 for 2017. These fraudulent tax returns reduced Williams' tax liability in excess of $200,000.
The indictment further alleges that between June 2017 and August 2018, Williams and Burdett failed to file the required IRS Forms 8300 for receipt of cash payments over $10,000. On five separate occasions charged in the Indictment, the defendants received and failed to report cash payments in excess of $10,000 from clients for legal services, totaling $66,516.
If convicted, Williams and Burdett each face a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the conspiracy count, three years in prison on each false return count, and five years in prison on each count of failing to file Forms 8300. The defendants also face a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.
The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division with assistance from the FBI. Assistant United States Attorneys Kelly P. Uebinger and David J. Ayo of the Western District of Louisiana are prosecuting the case. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Louisiana is prosecuting this case due to the recusal of the Eastern District of Louisiana U.S. Attorney's Office.
The charges in the indictment are only accusations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.