FRESNO - A Porterville woman was sentenced to four years in prison for tax and investment fraud and ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution. Marie E. Sherrill, 57, of Porterville, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd for wire fraud and tax fraud, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced. In addition to the repaying the fraud victims, she was ordered to pay $255,900 to the IRS.
According to court documents, Sherrill was a registered tax return preparer operating a bookkeeping and tax preparation business in Porterville under the name Sherrill Financial Services. Between January 2011 and December 2014, Sherrill prepared false tax returns for her clients containing false deductions to maximize their tax refunds, which caused a loss to the IRS of approximately $255,900.
Sherrill also used the intimate financial knowledge she gained from the clients of her bookkeeping and tax preparation business to identify victims she could lure into an investment fraud scheme. She told victims of this scheme that their money would be put into “pooled investments” with the money of other investors to earn a high rate of return.
The money was, in fact, never put into any investment, but was used instead to pay Sherrill’s personal expenses or to make lulling payments to earlier investors in order to make them believe their money was earning a profit. As a result of this scheme, the victims were defrauded of at least $1.3 million.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.