Date: December 8, 2022


Midland, TX — An Odessa woman pleaded guilty today to two counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation of a false tax return.

According to court documents, Rita Elia Sanchez, of Odessa owned and operated an income tax preparation business, Rita's Tax Service, from her home. Between 2016 and 2018, Sanchez willfully and knowingly helped prepare false Forms 1040 on behalf of her clients. Sanchez portrayed herself as a knowledgeable and experienced return preparer, leading her clients to believe that she knew how to maximize their deductions and tax refunds. However, Sanchez inflated and, in some cases, completely fabricated items on her clients' income tax returns—often without their knowledge. Sanchez rarely reviewed her clients' income tax returns with them, beyond the amount they were to receive. This calculated oversight prevented her clients from easily identifying false items on their tax returns.

A sentencing date has not yet been set. Sanchez faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count. As part of her plea agreement, Sanchez agrees to pay the IRS $7,953,546.81 in restitution. Additionally, Sanchez is prohibited by law from preparing or filing federal tax returns for anyone other than herself. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas and Special Agent in Charge Ramsey E. Covington of the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) Houston Field Office made the announcement.

The IRS-CI investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joe Mahoney and Monica Daniels prosecuted the case with the assistance of trial attorney Michael L. Jones of the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division, Southern Criminal Enforcement Section detailed to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.

CI's Houston Field Office encompasses the U.S. District Court's Southern and Western districts of Texas. CI special agents work a variety of cases, emphasizing traditional tax-related crimes such as employment tax, corporate fraud, identity theft, unscrupulous return preparers and general fraud. The Houston Field Office also provides crucial support to task forces involving counterterrorism, public corruption, human trafficking, drugs and complex money laundering violations. For more information or to report tax fraud, see the Criminal Investigation page.