Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty in $11.5M USDA Fraud Case

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A tax preparer who had an office in North Little Rock pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to defraud the IRS in connection with diverting more than $11.5 million intended to help farmers who had been discriminated against. 

Jerry Green, 40, of Texas, will be sentenced at a later date for filing more than $4.6 million in false tax returns, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

Green admitted to preparing at least 82 false tax returns as part of a scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Agriculture out of millions of dollars intended for minority farmers who had suffered discrimination in USDA programs.

Also charged in the case were four sisters — Lynda Charles, Rosie Bryant, Delois Bryant and Brenda Sherpell. The sisters each received $2.2 million from a fraud scheme that lasted nearly a decade, according to the indictment, filed in December 2019.

Lynda Charles’ daughter, Niki Charles, and Little Rock attorney Everett Martindale also have been charged. A total of 115 counts were filed against the seven defendants, although not every count applies to each defendant. The charges include mail fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, false tax returns and conspiracy to defraud the IRS.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Green admitted he was hired by Rosie Bryant to assist with filing false tax returns for Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation claimants, the news release said. 

In November 2013, he opened Jiffy Tax, his own tax preparation firm, and met with Rosie Bryant and her sisters. 

“According to statements made at the plea hearing, Green and the four sisters reached an agreement in which Jiffy Tax would prepare fraudulent tax returns for Hispanic Women’s Farmers and Ranchers claimants in exchange for a payment of $550 per fraudulent return,” the release said. 

In addition to the charges against Green and the four Bryant sisters, the indictment alleges that Martindale also worked for the sisters by depositing claim checks into his law firm trust account, issuing a check from that trust account to the claimant, and withholding his attorney fee, which he would then split with the sisters, the release said. 

The sisters and Martindale’s trial is set for Feb. 7, 2022.

“Today’s guilty plea is the first step towards resolving this complex fraud investigation,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan D. Ross. “We appreciate the work of IRS Criminal Investigation in their efforts to bring this matter to justice.”