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Accountant pleads guilty to tax evasion

COVINGTON -- A Covington certified public accountant was recently convicted on charges of tax evasion, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.

Walter V. Murray, 47, was sentenced Friday to serve a year and a day in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $187,659.

Murray pleaded guilty to an income tax evasion charge in connection with willfully failing to file a personal tax return for 2006, despite having received taxable income of $116,843 for that year.

"Evidence in the case showed that for the years 2001 through 2006, Murray, then a certified public accountant, underreported his taxable income in the amount of $556,080," the release states. "For the purpose of concealing his personal income from the IRS, Murray caused his income to be deposited directly into investment and corporate accounts, from which he paid his day-to-day personal expenses."

Federal authorities are reminding residents during the final days of tax season not to break tax laws as prosecution and imprisonment could be the result. They cited several recent cases of those found guilty of income tax fraud in the metro Atlanta area.

"Each year our federal law enforcement agencies dig through records and follow paper trails to people who thought they could get away with cheating on their taxes or filing false claims for tax refunds," Yates said. "Ultimately, those crimes victimize every law-abiding, tax-paying citizen because they steal funding used to provide vital services such as education, highways and health care. Cheating on your taxes is really the same as stealing from your neighbor, your family and your friends. Don't do it."

Prosecutors in Yates' office work with multiple federal agencies including the Internal Revenue Service, United States Secret Service and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

"Individuals and business can violate our tax laws in any number of ways: by intentionally filing a fictitious or fraudulent tax return, by intentionally not filing a tax return at all, or by preparing false tax returns for others," said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Reginael McDaniel. "As this year's filing season draws to a close, honest, law-abiding citizens in the North Georgia and Atlanta area can be reassured that IRS Criminal Investigation is working diligently to investigate every method used by those who attempt to defeat our tax system."

The penalties in tax-related cases carry potentially severe sentences, as well as restitution, penalties and interest. By statute, the maximum sentence for each count of tax evasion or for each count of failing to file a tax return is five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

The deadline for filing tax returns is April 15.