GLADWIN COUNTY, MI — The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan has charged a Gladwin County tax preparer with wire fraud.
Mark Alan Patterson, 51, appeared in federal court Thursday and was released on bond, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider.
The charges against Patterson are related to his work with Schuster Tax Service in Beaverton, where he allegedly stole parts of clients’ tax refunds between 2015 and February 2020. He allegedly deceived his clients by giving them unfiled versions of their returns that omitted the refund money he took from the final versions, according to the release.
Schuster Tax Service’s owner told police of the apparent fraud in late February after she found roughly 120 returns Patterson allegedly siphoned funds from into bank accounts he controlled. She estimated more than $400,000 was taken from Patterson’s clients, according to the release.
Patterson faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted, according to the release. Prosecutors will decide whether to pursue a felony indictment after completing an investigation into the alleged crimes.
“Stealing client tax refunds is a serious crime that hurts innocent taxpayers,” said Sarah Kull, the IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge of the case, in the release. “IRS-CI works tirelessly to hold those that commit refund fraud accountable for their actions.”
When reached, an employee at Schuster Tax Service declined to comment.