65th tax preparer faces felony charges for “ghost business” tax fraud

A St. James Parish tax preparer faces felony charges for allegedly fabricating business losses for companies that did not exist.

Warren Lavern Bryant, of Lutcher, is accused of submitting state income tax returns that included phony business losses, which improperly reduced his clients’ taxable income, resulting in illegally inflated tax refunds.

Tax auditors with the Louisiana Department of Revenue noticed a suspicious pattern with returns that Bryant submitted in 2015.

Investigators determined that none of the clients whose returns they examined had claimed any business losses when they provided Bryant with their tax records. In fact, not one of them had ever owned or operated a business.

Fabricated losses are used frequently by unscrupulous tax preparers who try to increase their business by promising larger-than-expected refunds.

Bryant’s alleged fraud scheme cost Louisiana taxpayers an estimated $116,325.00. He was arrested on Tuesday, February 7 and booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on charges of Principal to Filing or Maintaining False Public Records and Principal to Illegal Transmission of Monetary Funds.

Warren Bryant is the 65th person arrested under a joint anti-tax fraud initiative of the Department of Revenue and the state Attorney General’s office.