A Compton man was sentenced Thursday to 21 months in federal prison for participating in a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service through the filing of bogus tax returns.

Curtis D. Lowe, 29, was also held partly responsible, along with at least four co-defendants, for nearly $4.5 million in restitution to the IRS, according to U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson.

Lowe pleaded guilty last year to tax fraud violations for providing the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of numerous people, including friends and family members, to Nancy L. Hilton, who used the information to file fraudulent returns at her two Moreno Valley tax preparation businesses.

In a rambling statement to the court, Lowe told the judge that he fell into the scheme after years of trauma on the streets of Compton.

“Now, I’m a totally different person,” Lowe told the court.

But Pregerson said that during previous hearings and in dealings with the probation department, “I didn’t get the sense you were really honest about a lot of things.”

Hilton, 69, pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to defraud the United States with respect to claims, submitting a false claim, and possession or use of a means of identification to commit unlawful activity, according to the IRS.

Hilton acknowledged that in January 2008, she entered into a scheme with Lowe and others to file phony tax returns and collect the resulting refunds. Hilton’s role in the conspiracy included preparing fraudulent tax returns as well as supervising the preparation of false returns through her business, according to the IRS.

The total amount of refunds claimed by members of the conspiracy for tax years 2008 and 2009 based upon false information was almost $6 million, according to the IRS.

Hilton faces up to 30 years in federal prison, with sentencing set for July 6.

City News Service

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