A Dalton tax preparer has been indicted by a Whitfield County grand jury for violation of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
Maribel Mireles had previously been arrested in 2017 and 2018 by the Dalton Police Department for computer forgery and making false statements.
District Attorney Bert Poston said the RICO charge brought under state law will allow prosecutors and law enforcement officials to broaden the case if they deem it necessary.
“With a normal felony case, you have a four-year statute of limitations,” Poston said. “Under a RICO charge, you can go back indefinitely if the acts are the same part of a criminal pattern repeated year after year.”
According to the indictment, Mireles, through Maribel's Tax Service in Dalton, between Feb. 1, 2017, and May 14, 2018, violated the law "through a pattern of racketeering activity and proceeds derived therefrom ..."
"The accused did meet with undercover police officers and prepare Georgia state income tax returns with false income tax deductions, by submitting false income tax deductions to the Department of Revenue of the state of Georgia and by submitting false income tax returns by computer submission, depriving the state of Georgia of revenue and United States currency, to achieve payment to the accused in the form of monetary compensation as a tax preparer ... ," the indictment said.
It said on or about Feb. 14, 2017, Mireles made a false statement through a "false Georgia income tax return ... with false income tax deductions relating to gifts to charity and job expenses ..."
It said on or about that same day, Mireles committed computer forgery "when she did create and alter data contained in a computer network ..." and used "tax software to produce fraudulent documents" that were submitted to the state Department of Revenue.
It said on or about April 2, 2018, Mireles made a false statement through a false Georgia income tax return that included false income tax deductions concerning "medical expenses, gifts to charity and job expenses ..."
It said on or about that same day, Mireles committed computer forgery when she altered data within a computer network and submitted a fraudulent Georgia income tax return through tax software.
"It appeared that she was conducting a scheme to reduce taxable income for customers and increase her business income through fees or possibly theft,” the Georgia Department of Revenue said in a statement at the time of her arrest in 2018. “... In February 2018, the Department of Revenue Office of Special Investigations was advised that Mireles was again preparing income taxes for clients in the Dalton area. ... In March 2018, the Department of Revenue Office of Special Investigations completed another analysis of returns submitted by Maribel Mireles. All returns analyzed contained suspicious federal Schedule A deductions that were outside the range of the standard tax deduction norm.”
Georgia Department of Revenue spokesman William Gaston said then that the investigation was still open from the previous year while state officials worked with federal officials from the Department of the Treasury to build a case with the possibility of other charges. Gaston said the Georgia department had blocked Mireles’ tax preparer ID, but said she moved her business and started preparing taxes again.
Mireles told the newspaper in 2017 that she was innocent of any wrongdoing.