Lubbock mother, daughter sentenced for tax fraud

Provided by U.S. Attorney General

Patricia Servin Zavala and her daughter, San Juanita (Janie) Pena, who each pleaded guilty in May 2012 to an indictment charging one count of conspiracy to commit tax fraud and false statements and 94 counts of substantive tax fraud and false statements, were sentenced today in Lubbock, Texas.

U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings sentenced Zavala to a total of 71 months, and Pena to a total of 57 months, in federal prison and ordered that they each pay a $10,000 fine. He also ordered that they jointly and severally pay $411,395 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. Zavala was ordered to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on October 5, 2012; Pena has been in federal custody. Today's announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

According to the factual resumes filed in the case, Zavala was the office manager for Z&Z Bookkeeping & Tax Service, located in Lubbock. The primary business of Z&Z was to assist and advise taxpayers in the preparation and filing of their federal income tax returns. As office manager, Zavala was in charge of day-to-day operations and in her absence, Pena handled those responsibilities. Zavala and Pena recruited others to work at Z&Z and solicited individuals to do business with Z&Z.

From January 2008 to April 15, 2010, according to the factual resumes filed, Zavala and Pena conspired to commit tax fraud and make false statements by, among other things, preparing and submitting fraudulent and false tax returns, claiming approximately $411,395 in false and fraudulent refunds.

The factual resumes further state that Zavala and Pena falsely told taxpayers that their refund would be a certain amount, which was usually substantially less than what was actually reported on the tax return. They instructed taxpayers to apply for a refund anticipation loan (RAL) so that they could receive their refunds quickly and instructed taxpayers to cash their RAL check and return a portion of the income tax refunds to them. In many instances, Zavala and Pena forged taxpayers' signatures on the RAL checks and cashed them at Huber's Pawn Shop in Lubbock.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paulina Jacobo.