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updated: 5/23/2014 6:19 PM

Former Chicago tax preparer gets 4 years in prison

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Associated Press

A former Chicago tax preparer has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for filing false income tax returns that claimed millions of dollars in refunds for clients.

The U.S. attorney's office announced Verlean Hollins of South Holland was sentenced Thursday. She pleaded guilty in January to two counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false federal income tax returns.

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She was also fined nearly $800,000.

Prosecutors say Hollins admitted filing nearly 3,200 individual tax returns from her office on Chicago's South Side. The returns falsely claimed education tax credits, resulting in claimed refunds totaling nearly $3.4 million.

U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan said it was "not a minor offense" and her crime "became a business lifestyle."

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