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Charges: Tax preparer cost Minnesota $1.4M by lying on clients' returns

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A Minneapolis tax preparer is accused of costing the state of Minnesota more than $1.4 million in lost revenue after she lied on hundreds of her clients' tax returns.

Rona Estelle Griffin, 51, is also alleged to have lied on her own income and business tax returns. She has been charged with 53 felonies in what Hennepin County Attorney says is the biggest tax fraud case it has ever filed.

Between 2009 and 2013, Griffin filed hundreds of tax returns through her company HAH Broker Inc. in which she "consistently lied about [clients '] charitable contributions and about business expenses that were not reimbursed," according to a criminal complaint.

She would report on their tax forms that they contributed 10 percent of their salaries to charities, even though many contributed nothing or just a few hundred dollars. She sometimes also changed her clients' occupations on tax forms.

It saved her clients thousands of dollars, but KARE 11 reports that these people now face having to repay the money they owe back.

"They paid to have a proper return prepared and what they got was junk," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said.

"This is the result of brazen cheating. Ten people are reflected in the complaint who were cheated and many more, we believe, were cheated," he added.

She is also accused of failing to file a tax return for HAH Broker between 2010 and 2013, and a tax return filed in 2009 is said to have "dramatically understated" the company's profits.

The Star Tribune reports that Griffin, who ran her company from her home in Champlin before moving to north Minneapolis, is not currently in custody.

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