Former SK tax preparer sentenced to 2 years

A former Port Orchard man charged with falsifying tax returns and defrauding the Internal Revenue Service out of more than $100,000 was sentenced to at least two years in prison last week, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Richard A. Peirce, formerly a tax preparer with Pat’s Accounting, Inc., in Port Orchard, was charged last April with 82 counts of fraud, including claiming false foster children to obtain larger refunds for his clients and himself.

According to the indictment filed with the U.S. District Court office in Tacoma, Peirce “devised a plan to defraud the Internal Revenue Service” by helping clients receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) by claiming fake “foster children” as dependents.

According to court documents, for tax returns prepared between 1997 and 2003, Peirce used the names and Social Security numbers of his own children and those of other clients to “willfully aid and assist” clients in both receiving larger refunds from the IRS than they were entitled to, and in paying less income tax than was required.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Janet Freeman estimated the total “tax loss” to the government caused by Peirce’s fraud was $123,076.

“Peirce’s crime was not a one-time event,” Freeman wrote to the court. “The flagrant nature of his actions is exhibited by a prolonged pattern to mislead the IRS and several of his clients for several years.”

At Peirce’s sentencing on Friday, his defense attorney Linda Sullivan blamed her client’s drug and gambling addictions for his criminal actions, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Judge Ronald B. Leighton agreed to recommend drug treatment during his 27-month incarceration.

In addition to prison time, Leighton imposed three years of supervised release.

The original indictment against Peirce charged him with 34 counts of aiding and assisting the preparation of false income tax returns, which include nearly 20 instances where a client received more than $3,000 of EITC when no amount was legally deserved.

The remaining counts alleged 48 instances of illegally using another person’s identification — specifically their names and Social Security numbers — on tax returns between April 2000 and April 2003.

According to the plea agreement, Peirce admitted to three counts of filing false returns, all for the same client from the years 2001 to 2003. Over that three-year period, the client received more than $9,000 of the EITC.

Peirce also admitted to two instances of illegal use of social security numbers.

In 2003, acting on a tip by a former employee, IRS special agents raided Pat’s Accounting on April 15 and seized piles of documents and five computer hard drives.

Only four months earlier, Peirce had pleaded guilty in Kitsap County Superior Court to identity theft and forgery.

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