MARCELLUS THOMAS, 44, of High Point, North Carolina, was sentenced to 56 months imprisonment on federal income tax charges on September 23, 2008. There is no doubt when THOMAS reports he will find that his crime was not worth the short term benefit he received.
Crime does not pay. I know and speak from experience. Every choice has a consequence. As a business ethics speaker, I, like Thomas, paid the price for my unethical dealings by spending time in prison. I am not proud of that fact, but I do know that there is nothing worth the cost of your freedom and other issues that come from being a convicted felon.
According to the US Attorney’s Office:
THOMAS, a commercial income tax preparer operating a company called Refund Recovery Group in High Point, was charged with causing fraudulent federal income tax returns to be prepared for clients and filing them with the Internal Revenue Service for the tax years 2002-2004. Despite the fact that most of his clients lived in publicly-assisted housing and were unemployed during those years, THOMAS claimed income from fictitious businesses such as hair salons and day-care centers on their tax returns without their knowledge in order to obtain income tax refunds under the Earned Income Tax Credit to which they were not entitled. THOMAS did not identify himself on the tax returns as the preparer. After having the Internal Revenue Service wire the refunds, which ranged from $1,377 to $2,726, to his own bank account, THOMAS kept a significant portion of the refunds for himself and gave the remainder to his clients.
From an ethics perspective, THOMAS went knowingly and clearly outside of the bounds of the law and what anyone would have known to be correct. I cannot say that I would blame his clients as they would, for the most part, be ignorant of the tax law and what, if anything, they would be entitled to. On the other hand, THOMAS, had to have known exactly what he was doing when he made up fictious companies in order to claim the refunds.
According to the IRS, THOMAS was convicted by a jury on June 6, 2008, of eleven counts of filing false income tax returns.
From $1,300 to $2,800 in refunds to 56 months in federal prison, somehow, based on experience, I think that THOMAS will learn that crime does not pay. Perhaps, when released he will be able to take what he learned in prison and use it to some good in NC. For now, his consequence is significant. You do reap what you sow.