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Guilty plea entered in tax cheating case

A former tax preparer who taught his clients how to cheat on their taxes pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to a felony tax crime.

Robert Zeigler, 43, of Buffalo, faces a prison term of 12 to 18 months if U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara follows advisory sentencing guidelines.

According to federal prosecutors and agents, Zeigler formerly worked for an H&R Block tax preparation office in the Buffalo area. They said H&R Block fired Zeigler and fully cooperated in a government probe after learning of his illegal activities.

Zeigler admitted that, in the tax years 2002 through 2007, he helped 14 clients to boost their tax refunds by listing fake dependents and putting other false information in tax returns.

"The total tax loss [to the government] for all of the years is $62,508," Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell T. Ippolito Jr. said in court papers.

His plea agreement to filing a false tax return requires Zeigler to repay all the lost money to the IRS.

Ippolito said he could not comment on what will happen to the 14 taxpayers whom Zeigler helped to cheat.


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