Walla Walla man pleads guilty to tax fraud

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SPOKANE -- A Walla Walla man pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Spokane to conspiring to defraud the federal government by filing false income tax returns for refunds.

Earnest J. Allen, 43, of 1502 Truman St., faces a prison term of up to 10 years when he's sentenced Dec. 14. In a plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney's Office is dropping a companion charge of making a false claim against the United States.

In pleading guilty, Allen agreed that he and another person conspired to submit about 34 false claims for income tax refunds totaling $161,803 between 2000 and 2005. Of the total falsely claimed, the Internal Revenue Service actually issued refunds of $50,121.

Officials said stolen identities from various residences in Walla Walla were used to create the false tax returns claiming overpayment of taxes.

After a years-long investigation, Allen was arrested by IRS special agents at his residence July 27. Marcus Williams, special agent in charge of the Pacific Northwest, said in a statement e-mailed Wednesday, "Conspiring to file false claims for tax refunds is a sure ticket to a federal prosecution."

Walla Walla police report that Allen has been arrested previously, with drug convictions that include delivering methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop.

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