Charges against former CPA refined

Charges against former CPA refined

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Federal charges against former certified public accountant Carl Nicholson were outlined further in a Dec. 12 superseding indictment filed in United States District Court in Forrest County.

Nicholson faces the same 11 felony counts contained in the original indictment filed in June:

  • One count  of conspiracy to defraud the United States government
  • Four  counts of false statement on income tax return
  • Six  counts of willfully aiding and assisting in preparation of false tax  returns

Nicholson pleaded not guilty to all counts in July.

According to the superseding indictment’s first count, Nicholson, a person identified only as “JL” and a law firm known only as “JLPA,” from July 2012 through April 2015, presented JL’s personal expenses paid with funds from the law firm as business expenses incurred by the law firm.

The count charged that the duo “did unlawfully, voluntarily, intentionally and knowingly, conspire, combine, confederate and agree with JL … to defraud the United States for the purpose of impeding, impairing, obstructing and defrauding” the government “in the ascertainment, computation, assessment and collection of the revenue, to wit, income taxes.”

The indictment’s first count charged that Nicholson and JL “would and did falsify and classify personal expenses paid from the funds of JLPA as business expenses in the books and ledgers of JLPA;” that the two “would and did prepare false individual and corporate income tax returns and “would and did perform acts and make statements to hide and conceal and cause to be hidden and concealed the purpose of the conspiracy and acts committed in (the conspiracy’s) furtherance …”

According to court documents, those acts included JL directing others to “falsely classify JL’s personal expenses paid from funds of JLPA as business expenses into the books and records of JLPA” and that Nicholson “reviewed and signed JLPA monthly financial reports that he knew falsely classified JL’s personal expenses as JLPA business expenses.”

The indictment’s first count also alleges that Nicholson directed one of his employees to falsely classify $250,000 intended for one of two trusts created by JL as “legal fees” incurred by JLPA.

The document also charges that between March 2013 and April 2015, Nicholson and JL prepared false individual and corporate income tax returns and submitted them to the federal government. The indictment’s first count also says a $25,000 check on a 2014 return was falsely classified as an accounting expense incurred by JLPA.

The second count alleges Nicholson falsely stated “other expenses,” primarily with Forrest General Hospital, as well as total expenses and total income on individual tax returns filed from 2013 through 2016.

The third count featured six charges saying Nicholson “did willfully aid and assist and procure, counsel and advise the preparation and presentation … of a false joint U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040, for “JL” and “GL” for the years 2012-14 and false corporate returns for JLPA for the same time frame.

Nicholson’s trial date, initially set for Jan. 14, has been bumped back to Feb. 2. If convicted on all counts, Nicholson would face a maximum 35-year sentence and fines up to $2.75 million.

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