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Tax preparers charged with filing fraudulent returns

Among tax preparers charged with false filing are,

Among tax preparers charged with false filing are, from left, Sherrece Durrant-Gardner, John Ferolito and Marchia Purdie. (Undated) Photo Credit: Nassau County District Attorney

Four Nassau County tax preparers carried out a variety of schemes while filing fraudulent income tax returns, officials say, including one in which the preparer paid prison inmates $250 for their social security numbers then filed for refunds in their names, pocketing $10,000 .

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance outlined charges against the four, including three who worked at the same Jackson-Hewitt Tax Service office in Roosevelt. The Jackson-Hewitt corporate office on Tuesday did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the charges.

Here are the four:

Sherrece Durrant-Gardner, 34, of Hempstead, was arrested and charged with first-degree counts of scheming to defraud and offering a false instrument for filing. From 2006 to 2010 Durrant-Gardner worked as a tax preparer for Jackson-Hewitt in Roosevelt. Durrant-Gardner paid $250 to several inmates in exchange for personal information, including their dates of birth and Social Security numbers, the state said. Durrant-Gardner then filed fraudulent returns and kept more than $10,000 in phony tax refunds. She faces up to four years in prison if convicted. She is due in Nassau County Court on March 29.

Donna Giordano, 33, of Freeport, an employee of the same Jackson-Hewitt franchise as Durrant-Gardner, was charged with offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree and grand larceny in the fourth degree. Giordano used fraudulent documentation to boost tax refunds for her clients, the state said. She will appear in Nassau County Court on April 7.

Marchia Purdie, 42, of Hempstead, an employee of the same Jackson-Hewitt franchise, was charged with offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree and grand larceny in the fourth degree. Purdie used fraudulent documentation to boost tax refunds for her clients, the state said. She will appear in Nassau County Court April 5.

John Ferolito, 54, of Westbury, was charged with attempted offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree and attempted criminal tax fraud in the third degree. Ferolito prepared two fraudulent tax returns for a client who was actually an undercover investigator, the state said. The difference in liability between the actual and the amount calculated by the defendant on the tax returns was more $9,000 for each of two years totaling a potential loss of about $19,000 in state tax liability.

State officials said the arrests, which included three others outside Nassau, were part of Operation AccountAbility, a sweep targeting income tax preparers who prepare fraudulent tax returns for clients. Four Nassau County tax preparers face fraud and grand larceny charges after they were accused of filing false income tax returns, state tax officials said. 

Photo: Among tax preparers charged with false filing are, from left, Sherrece Durrant-Gardner, John Ferolito and Marchia Purdie.

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