BOSTON – The owner of several fake Georgia nonprofits has been charged and agreed to plead guilty of filing false tax returns.
Taressa Hightower, 60, of Grayson, Georgia, has been charged with double filing false tax returns. An objection by the court has not yet been set.
According to court records, Hightower ran two nonprofits allegedly serving underprivileged children in the Atlanta, Georgia area. From approximately 2010 to 2015, Hightower allegedly received more than $ 650,000 in donations from a Boston bank where Palestine Ace, the wife of Hightower’s family member Jonathan Ace, worked. In reality, the funds Hightower received as alleged donations were received through the proceeds of a separate embezzlement program run by Palestine and Jonathan Ace. As a condition of receiving these “donations”, Hightower agreed to return about 25% to Palestine and Jonathan Ace as a secret blowback.
Instead of using the funds for charity, Hightower spent the majority of it on personal expenses unrelated to charity work. For the 2013 and 2014 tax years, Hightower filed false personal and organizational tax returns in connection with the alleged donations. Each year, Hightower reported significant amounts of nonexistent and / or excessive business expenses, which ultimately lowered their personal tax liability.
In 2018, Palestine and Jonathan Ace were convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to one year and two years in prison, respectively.
The indictment law provides for a prison term of up to three years, one year of custody release and a fine of $ 250,000. Sentences are passed by a federal district judge based on U.S. sentencing guidelines and other legal factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Representative for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Ramsey E. Covington, assistant special envoy to the criminal investigation department of the Internal Revenue Service in Boston, announced today. US assistant attorney Jordi de Llano, assistant director of securities, financial and cyber fraud at Lelling, is pursuing the case.
The information contained in the fee documents are allegations. The accused is presumed innocent unless and until he has been found unequivocally guilty in a court of law.