A onetime owner of a temporary-employment agency has been sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution for filing false federal income tax returns.

Shoua I. Yang, 45, of Woodbury, as owner and operator of St. Paul-based Atwork Staffing Inc., was sentenced Thursday in federal court in St. Paul in connection with pleading guilty to failing to pay taxes for income, Social Security and Medicare in 2017 and 2018.

Her company also paid a portion of its employees' income in cash to keep from being taxed, and underreported the company's gross receipts.

Prosecutors argued for the 15-month sentence that Yang ultimately received, which was below the 2 14 to 2 34 years recommended by federal sentencing guidelines.

In a presentence filing, prosecutors described her as a "supportive mother, wife and employee, all in the face of some very difficult challenges."

They also noted that she spent much of her childhood in refugee camps in Southeast Asia in the 1970s and that her mother died in one of the camps. Yang came to the United States, gave birth at 16 and married, but her husband was hit by a stray bullet in St. Paul in 2004 and died.

A subsequent relationship ended in allegations of abuse and the need for orders for protection, the prosecution added.

The defense had asked Judge Eric Tostrud to sentence Yang to a year of electronic home monitoring. Among the reasons were her husband's death, costly business decisions, her cooperation with the U.S. Attorney's Office and that "she has been a hard worker her entire life and has raised her children to be law-abiding and successful."

The restitution total includes nearly $725,000 for unpaid corporate taxes and close to $300,000 in unpaid employment taxes.