Cranston woman pleads guilty to preparing false tax returns

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A Cranston woman has pleaded guilty to preparing false income tax returns for clients and receiving a portion of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fraudulently obtained refunds.

Belkis M. Guzman, 48, entered the plea last week on counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, wire fraud, theft of government funds, and aggravated identity theft, U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha announced in a statement.

Guzman was indicted in March of this year. Her sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 2 in Superior Court.

According to prosecutors, the offenses occurred when Guzman worked as a tax preparer at El Centro Multiservicios LCC in Providence. She admitted to preparing for false returns for clients between 2009 and 2011, which prosecutors say “included false dependents, exemptions, tax credits, deductions or expenses.”

Additionally, authorities say Guzman “admitted to depositing more than 100 fraudulently obtained U.S. Treasury checks totaling more than $800,700 into her personal bank account, which were generated by the filing of false tax returns prepared by others.”

“Guzman distributed a portion of these ill-gotten proceeds to others and received a percentage of the negotiated checks as payment for depositing the checks into her account,” the statement from Neronha’s office reads.

Man sentenced to prison on firearms charges

A convicted felon and former Providence resident has been sentenced to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to firearms charges earlier this year.

Athnony Jenkins, 52, received the sentence in U.S. District Court this week, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha. He had entered the plea in May to a charge of being a felon in possession of six firearms.

Prosecutors say that in November 2015, members of an ATF task force learned that Jenkins planned to steal multiple weapons and sell them to a person who had recently been released from prison.

That month, prosecutors say an undercover task force agent accompanied Jenkins to a storage facility in Cranston, where Jenkins believed a range of firearms and ammunition were being stored in a locked unit. Jenkins is said to have cut the lock and removed six firearms and assorted ammunition from the unit, and he was immediately taken into custody.

Jenkins has a lengthy criminal record, according to prosecutors, including 19 convictions for felony theft offenses.

The Cranston Police Department participates in the ATF task force.

Police seek to ID theft suspect

Police are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a man suspected in a recent shoplifting incident.

According to a posting on social media, the suspect was involved in the theft of undisclosed items and a money exchange scam with a cashier at the Kmart at 296 Garfield Ave. on Aug. 5. Police circulated an image of the suspect taken from surveillance video.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Lee Sohn at 401-942-2211, ext. 5147.

SUSPECT: This image taken from surveillance video shows the suspect in a recent shoplifting incident at Kmart. (Image courtesy of Cranston Police Department)

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