Updated: June 23, 2014 11:45AM
A Lake Station tax preparer stole at least $400,000 and possibly up to $1 million by falsifying his clients’ tax returns to inflate their refunds and pocket the extra money, according to a plea agreement filed in federal court in Hammond.
Michael Nash, 39, who was indicted in February, will plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and aggravated identity theft, the agreement indicates.
It says Nash will admit that he paid someone, identified by federal authorities only as Individual A, whom he knew was filing false tax returns for client referrals. Nash would provide false information on these clients’ returns so it appeared they were due a larger refund than they actually were entitled to receive, the agreement says.
Prosecutors said he would not tell many of the clients about the bigger refunds, directing that the extra money be deposited into his bank account.
In addition, Nash used information from some clients to file their tax returns without their knowledge, pocketing all of the refunds in those cases, according to the indictment.
Feds want to prevent evidence leak
Federal prosecutors are seeking a protection order for all evidence against Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist and his wife that the government shares with his lawyers.
The evidence is sensitive, and prosecutors want to make sure that it be used by the defendants and their attorneys only for their defense, according to motions filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Hammond.
Soderquist and his wife, Deborah, are charged with taking money from the city food pantry and using his campaign fund for their personal use, including on numerous gambling trips, from 2010 to 2012.
They also are charged in a separate case with helping Deborah Soderquist’s daughter, Miranda Brakley, try to hide her theft of money from city court, where she worked as a clerk until she was fired in June 2012.
Brakley is charged with theft and income tax evasion. All three have pleaded not guilty.
Teresa Auch Schultz