HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - A federal judge sentenced former Hattiesburg accountant Carl Nicholson to five years in prison Thursday morning.
Nicholson was sentenced to serve five years in prison by U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett after being convicted in February on 11 felony counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States government, four counts of false statement on income tax returns and six counts of willfully aiding/assisting in preparation of false tax returns.
“Today’s prison sentence for CPA Nicholson should serve as a reminder that the Department of Justice will prosecute fraudulent tax return preparers, who violate this nation’s tax laws, and that the penalties for such conduct include significant prison time,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman.
Starrett also ordered Nicholson to serve three years of supervised release, to pay a $25,000 fine and to pay restitution of $629,432 to the IRS.
“Carl Nicholson abused his position of trust as a CPA and defrauded Mississippians and American taxpayers," said U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst. “This case illustrates that no one is above the law, that our tax laws will be vigorously enforced, and that justice will always be done in the Southern District of Mississippi.”
Evidence presented during the four-day trial showed that Nicholson used money for his business to pay personal expenses, which were then written off as business expenses on tax returns.
Prosecutors said Nicholson conspired with a client to carry out a scheme in 2012, 2013 and 2014, including directing a $250,000 payment to one of the client’s personal trusts to be classified as a business expense. Nicholson was also accused of under-reporting the profits from selling his accounting firm, Nicholson & Company.
The jury delivered a guilty verdict after deliberating for more than two hours.
State Auditor Shad White issued this statement after Nicholson’s conviction: