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Destrehan duo charged with tax fraud

NEW ORLEANS – Cathy Ross Vinnett, 46, and her daughter, Lashanda Ruth Vinnett, 29, of Destrehan were indicted on Friday for conspiracy to defraud the United States and, specifically, the Internal Revenue Service.
According to court documents, Cathy Vinnett opened the D&C Tax Service in 2006. In 2008, the Vinnetts created River Parish Tax Professionals. The business was established by Lashanda and Cathy Vinnett for the purpose of filing fraudulent tax returns using the First-Time Homebuyer Credit.
The FTHBC was available for people who purchased a new home between April 1, 2008, and July 1, 2009. Since this was a refundable tax credit, a filer was not required have to have any federal tax withholdings for that year to claim a tax refund. For the period alleged in this indictment, the Vinnetts allegedly filed approximately 311 tax returns through River Parish Tax Professionals, which resulted in $1.8 million dollars in refunds. Slightly more than three-fourths of the filed returns claimed the FTHBC.
The Vinnetts face a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, followed by up to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. U.S. Attorney Boente reiterated that an indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This case is being investigated by special agents from the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Strike Force Chief and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba.