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Former Statesboro and Milledgeville Bar Owner Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a former Georgia bar owner pleaded guilty Tuesday to tax evasion.

Court documents and statements made in court show that James Stafford, 44, engaged in a scheme to evade taxes he and others owed on income earned from bars in Statesboro and Milledgeville. Stafford was nominally the sole owner of Chrysha Inc., which operated a bar in Statesboro, and BGRG Inc., which operated a bar and a restaurant in Milledgeville. In practice, however, both companies had multiple partners with varying percentages of ownership.

Stafford provided false information to an accountant who prepared the companies’ 2014 corporate tax returns. Specifically, he underreported gross receipts and omitted cash distributions made to the true partners. As a result, Stafford caused false corporate tax returns to be filed with the IRS. By filing false corporate tax returns, Stafford also enabled the true owners of the bars and restaurant to evade their respective individual income tax liabilities. Additionally, Stafford underreported his own income on his 2014 individual tax return filed with the IRS.

Stafford is scheduled to be sentenced at a later date and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney David Estes for the Southern District of Georgia made the announcement.

IRS-Criminal Investigation and the FBI are investigating the case.

Assistant Chief David Zisserson and Trial Attorney Casey Smith of the Tax Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia, are prosecuting the case.

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