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Prosecutors: Joliet tax preparers falsified data on tax returns

Gerrie Cokenour | Will County sheriff's office

Two tax preparers from southwest suburban Joliet have been charged with defrauding the state out of more than $400,000 by falsifying data on income tax returns.

Gerrie Cokenour, 42, and 43-year-old Nycole Simms-Stevens were charged with theft of government property over $100,000, punishable by six to 30 years in prison, and entering false information on state income tax returns, punishable by one to three years in prison, the state’s attorneys general’s office announced Thursday.

Prosecutors allege that the pair prepared 764 state income tax returns containing inflated property tax data and other fraudulent deductions while working for Cokenour’s company, Tax Advocators Inc.

The falsified tax returns cost the state more than $400,000, prosecutors said.

“Allegations of tax preparer fraud should serve as a reminder to the public to choose carefully when hiring a tax professional, and avoid claims of large refunds that seem too good to be true,” Director of the Illinois Department of Revenue Connie Beard said in the statement.

Bond was set at $1 million each, prosecutors said. The pair is next scheduled to appear in court Feb. 18.

Nycole Simms-Stevens | Will County sheriff’s office