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Former Brick Tax Prep Couple Face More Federal Counts

The onetime tax preparers  from Brick Township accused of filing false returns on behalf of inmates in New Jersey prisons now face 21 new charges in a superseding indictment.

Kamal J. James, aka Bro Messiah Aziz El, and Crystal Hawkins, aka Sis. Crystal Gabri El, both of Delaware, are now charged with making claims to the United States for payment of fraudulent tax refunds and mail fraud. They were indicted January 16 of this year on one count of conspiring to defraud the United States.

Each of 16 fraudulent-claim charges would equate to as many as five years in prison on conviction. Three mail fraud counts carry maximum 20-year sentences. The original conspiracy charge is punishable by up to 10 years behind bars.

James and Hawkins operated Release Refunds from October 2011 to October 2013, maintaining an office in Brick before moving the operation to Seaford, Delaware, according to information from the office of New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.

They are accused of business from inmates, collecting information, instructing them to sign IRS returns and relevant documents without adding details about income or withholdings, and fabricating the figures to inflate refunds.

According to authorities, an IRS agent went undercover inside a prison and went through the process, which resulted in several thousand dollars’ worth of refunds and a prep fee of $1,485.

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