• 73°

LaPlace woman gets 12 years in jail for $20K theft

EDGARD — A LaPlace woman was sentenced to 12 years in prison last week, the result of a conviction earlier this year for stealing $20,000 from an older St. John the Baptist Parish resident, District Attorney Bridget A. Dinvaut said.

Judge J. Sterling Snowdy sentenced Shawanda Nevers-Hawkins Sept. 8 following Nevers’ conviction for theft of the assets of a person who is aged. She received 12 years in prison and was ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution to the victim, according to Dinvaut.

Shawanda Nevers

Shawanda Nevers

A six-person St. John jury found Nevers, 33, guilty in February. She was sentenced this month as a habitual offender, Dinvaut said, because of the defendant’s three previous felony convictions.

“At trial, the District Attorney’s Office showed that Nevers used a ‘double-your-money’ scheme to defraud persons 60 or older,” Dinvaut said. “Nevers approached the victim asking to borrow $20,000 and promised to pay the victim $40,000 in one month’s time. However, Nevers failed to make any payment on the date the loan was due and kept the victim’s money for over two years.”

Authorities said the victim repeatedly asked Nevers to return her $20,000 before filing a complaint with the St. John Sheriff’s Office. Formal charges were filed Aug. 8, 2014.

Assistant D.A. Justin Lacour led the prosecution, assisted by Shelley Deville and Henri Dufresne.

Nevers has pending felony cases in St. John Parish for theft, issuing worthless checks and forgery, Dinvaut said.

A federal grand jury charged Nevers in May with dozens of criminal counts related to a suspected fraud operation that created false tax returns for clients claiming a variety of fraudulent losses and deductions related to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Federal authorities said Nevers worked as Shawanda Hawkins and Shawanda Bryant while operating a tax return preparation business under several names and at various locations in greater LaPlace.

According to the indictment, between 2011 and 2016, Nevers filed 37 false tax returns for clients that claimed a variety of fraudulent losses and deductions, including false Schedule C businesses and false unreimbursed employee expenses.

In September 2014, a federal judge permanently enjoined Nevers from preparing federal tax returns. Nevers is charged with contempt of court for violating that injunction by preparing eight federal income tax returns in 2015 and 2016.

Nevers also is charged with forging the signature of a federal bankruptcy judge on a false document purporting to be an order reinstating a bankruptcy petition and with bank fraud for submitting a fraudulent claim for losses supposedly caused by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.