[UPDATE 08-28-20 Fields sentenced to nine years in prison]
Winfred Fields, a west Houston tax preparer, has been found guilty of 15 counts of fraud and tax violations. This follows a two-week jury trial.
Fields operated tax and book-keeping businesses from an office on Richmond Avenue in the Westchase area of Houston. They operated under the business names of Fields Enterprises, Your Tax Professionals and The Tax Boss.
Fields falsely claimed that offshore oil workers from the UK, Spain and New Zealand, who were working on vessels on the Outer Continental Shelf of the USA, were exempt from US tax. He charged a fee of $2,500 for each crew member’s first return and a $1,000 fee for each return thereafter. Fields required direct receipt of the funds so that he could negotiate the checks and take his fee off the top.
Fields agreed to provide the remainder of the refund proceeds to the foreign clients. He did that for a while, but ultimately stopped forwarding any money to the workers.
The jury heard that Fields fraudulently obtained $3.1 million in tax refunds from the IRS. He kept approximately $1.3 million for himself.
Up to 20 years in prison
Sentencing is set for May 2020. At that time, Fields faces up to 20 years for one count of conspiracy to commit mail and one count of wire fraud. For the other 13 tax fraud convictions, he also faces up to three years in federal prison. He may also be ordered to pay restitution to his victims and up to $250,000 in fines.
Not the first time Fields has been in trouble
This isn’t the first time that Fields has been in trouble with the authorities. Back in 2008, he settled charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over his role in a ‘Pump and Dump’ scheme involving Aimsi Technologies, a Tennessee-based company. Fields was required to pay disgorgement of $350,000 and prejudgment interest of $64,000.
In December 2006, Fields settled with the SEC over his role in a different ‘Pump and Dump’ scheme involving a company called OSF Inc. He was barred from serving as an officer or director of a public company for five years.