78.5 F
Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, March 2, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsMore Fraud Victims Identified as Former Tax Prep Service Owner Pleads Guilty

More Fraud Victims Identified as Former Tax Prep Service Owner Pleads Guilty

Three more fraudulent acts surfaced during Wednesday’s change of plea hearing for Alexandra Smyth. (Shutterstock image)

The former operator of a bookkeeping and tax preparation service on St. Thomas pleaded guilty on Wednesday to two counts of federal wire fraud. Among the admissions made by defendant Alexandra Smyth at that hearing were offenses against a well-known nonprofit organization.

The finalized plea agreement filed in the clerk’s office in District Court also identified two more victims of Smyth’s scheme to divert funds paid by clients to cover tax bills into her personal bank account. Court documents said one of those victims was a person the defendant hired to lead a nonprofit she created called Perfect Heart.

The other, identified by initials L.B., was a tax client who allowed Smyth to withdraw $15,000 from his account to cover local and federal tax bills. Prosecutors said those funds — like those remitted by two other clients — were used by Smyth for personal expenses.

Fraudulent acts against clients B.E. and P.M. from Smyth’s Perfect Balance accounting service pegged their combined losses at around $25,000. Prosecutors said the wrongdoing took place in 2018.

Additional documented losses included $7,572 from use of a corporate credit card secured for the Perfect Heart charity. The card was given to an individual identified as J.O., hired to serve as executive director.

But lawyers for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the defendant ran up the charges, leaving J.O. to cover the expenses with their personal funds.

The final amount of $8,500 was raised through a partnership between Perfect Heart and a second nonprofit called V.I. Wise. Court documents said the money was intended to help the Family Resource Center fix its damaged roof after Hurricane Irma.

“Defendant failed to transfer those funds to the Family Resource Center, and instead fraudulently used those funds for her own personal benefit,” the plea agreement said.

U.S. Magistrate Ruth Miller presided over Wednesday’s hearing. She called on Assistant U.S. Attorney Natasha Baker to read aloud a portion of the plea deal describing what the government could prove if the case played out before a jury. At the end of the reading, Miller turned to Smyth and asked if she agreed with the statement.

The defendant said yes. It will be up to Chief District Judge Robert Molloy to pronounce sentencing. No sentencing date was set at Wednesday’s hearing.

The maximum penalty for wire fraud, under the United States Code, is 20 years in prison with three years of supervised release after the term is served. The maximum fine is $250,000.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.