ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The owner and operator of a St. Louis County tax preparation service pleaded guilty to filing false returns and stealing the identities of taxpayers.

Ronald Shoniwa, 37, Florissant, MO, pleaded guilty to one felony count of theft of government funds for filing 15 fraudulent tax returns which generated more than $50,000 in refunds in the names of individuals without their consent or knowledge.

Shoniwa also acknowledged more than $182,000 in total false tax refunds were generated by his tax return service in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 tax years. He appeared before United States District Judge Carol E. Jackson, who set sentencing for October 8.

Theft of government funds carries a maximum penalty of ten years, and/or a fine of up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges. Restitution will also be ordered.

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