While preparing tax returns out of her Twin Cities home for clients — many of whom were “financially unsophisticated” — Ieisha Smith ended up gleaning more than $350,000, and now that means prison and a requirement to pay back the money she owes the IRS.
Smith, 35, was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison and ordered to repay $362,246 in restitution.
Smith, who pleaded guilty to filing false claims, submitted more than 100 fraudulent tax returns for the years 2008 and 2009 in the names of clients who came to her home.
Prosecutors had sought a longer prison term, up to three years, for what they argued in a court document was a scheme “that raids the nation’s treasury for easy money.”
One of her clients was blind, illiterate and was told the forms being filled out were for “Obama stimulus refunds,” they contended.
Smith’s scheme, prosecutors continued, relied on “an overburdened Internal Revenue Service and the certainty that each fraudulent submission, while large in the aggregate, would be small enough to slip through the cracks of review.” Many of the tax filings submitted were for returns netting about $7,000.
Smith’s defense pointed to her many hardships as a child, including sexual abuse, having a drug-addicted father and running away from home at age 16. As an adult, she lived in Minneapolis homeless shelters at times and tried to make a living as a hairstylist. In February 2009 she filed a fraudulent return and accepted a $3,500 refund. From there, the defense added, she did the same for others using tax-filing software.