Preparing fraudulent returns results in prison for tax servicer


Date: January 11, 2023


A tax preparer has been sent to federal prison following her conviction for conspiring to commit tax fraud over a four-year period, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Jeannette Villarreal pleaded guilty July 6, 2022, to preparing and filing income tax returns for clients under the business name of J&G Armadillo's Tax Service aka Reals Tax Service.

Today, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos imposed an 18-month term of imprisonment as well as a $15,000 fine. She must also serve three years of supervised release following her incarceration. At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence about the scope of the conspiracy which included thousands of fraudulent tax returns prepared over a six-year period resulting in a significant tax loss to the United States. In handing down the prison term, Judge Ramos noted Villarreal was the leader of an extensive criminal activity and she had recruited her two daughters into the enterprise. Judge Ramos concluded that a prison sentence was necessary despite Villareal's lack of criminal history to provide just punishment and afford adequate deterrence.

Villarreal's two daughters, Leannette Villarreal and Zeannette Salazar, were also convicted in the conspiracy.

"These three tax preparers not only betrayed the trust of their clients, who counted on them to prepare accurate returns, they betrayed the trust of all taxpaying Americans," said Special Agent in Charge Ramsey E. Covington of IRS - Criminal Investigation's Houston Field Office. "As we enter the 2023 tax filing season, I implore all taxpayers who plan to hire a third-party to prepare and file their tax return to choose their preparer wisely and ask questions before and during the preparation process. Finally, always ensure everything on your tax return is both correct and legitimate before signing the return, or Form 879 - IRS e-File Signature Authorization, and submitting the return to the IRS."

At the time of their pleas, Villarreal and her daughters each admitted to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States by willfully aiding and assisting in the preparation of false income tax returns.

On numerous occasions, they knowingly reported inaccurate earnings, fictitious charitable contributions and improper tax credits in order to increase the refund paid to the client. The tax returns purported their clients were permitted to claim deductions, credits or both. However, they were not entitled to claim more money, resulting in a tax loss to the United States.

Jeannette Villarreal was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

IRS – Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert D. Thorpe Jr. and John Marck prosecuted the case.