HARRISONBURG — A federal jury convicted a Harrisonburg woman accused of preparing fraudulent tax returns for at least a dozen clients.
Mercedes Rodriguez Varens, 55, was convicted Thursday on 13 felony counts of aiding or assisting the preparation of fraudulent or false statements.
The verdict came on the fourth day of the trial in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg.
A grand jury issued the indictment on Sept. 18. It was unsealed Nov. 2 upon her arrest.
According to the indictment, Varens knowingly prepared false tax returns from 2012 to 2013.
Court documents don’t state where she was employed, but an online search shows she is associated with CDL Inc. on Old Furnace Road.
Federal authorities say she prepared tax returns with roughly $165,000 in deductions for which the taxpayers didn’t qualify.
In one case, in March 2013, according to the indictment, Varens filed a tax return for a client for tax year 2012. Prosecutors say Varens claimed false unreimbursed employee expenses totaling $21,292.
In other tax returns, according to the indictment, Varens falsely claimed dependents for clients and misrepresented their filing status as heads of households.
It’s unclear if the clients knew she falsely prepared the returns. Prosecutors declined to comment.
As of Monday, Judge Elizabeth Dillon has yet to schedule a sentencing date.
Varens faces up to 39 years in prison.
While awaiting sentencing, she is free from the Rockingham County Jail on a $10,000 bond.