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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Local tax preparer, wife sentenced to federal prison

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Nearly a year after being convicted of federal fraud charges, an Ash Flat accountant and his wife were sentenced Jan. 27 by United States District Judge Susan Webber-Wright.

Bruce Morris, 66, and his wife Karen Sue Morris, 49, were both given sentences for their part in a long running scheme to defraud various government entities of nearly $600,000.

Bruce Morris was sentenced to four years in prison by Wright, who explained that a higher sentence was recommended for the crime, but she took Morris's age and lack of criminal history into account. His wife, Karen, received a lesser sentence of two years. U.S. Attorney John Ray White felt that, although she had stolen money from government agencies, she did not do so until she married her husband, who had been carrying out the illegal acts for many years.

In April, 2011, Bruce Morris was convicted of 44 counts of fraud filed against him by Federal prosecutors. Morris had lied to obtain benefits from Social Security, The Veterans Administration, Pell Higher Education Grants for his step daughters, as well as obtaining fraudulent income tax credits.

A federal grand jury convicted Karen Morris of all 29 counts filed against her. She was not charged, however, with stealing unauthorized veterans benefits.

At trial, prosecutors said Morris had falsely claimed injuries that prevented him from working, allowing him to collect nearly $500,000 in veterans and Social Security benefits. Morris, who is a former Internal Revenue Service accountant, told the Arkansas Board of Public Accountancy he operated a full time business. At the same time, he was collecting government benefits, after claiming he was severely disabled- to the point he could not dress himself and could not work.

In addition to the charges of fraudulently receiving government funds, the couple was also convicted on charges of filing false income tax returns for both themselves and their unsuspecting customers. Morris' CPA license was revoked in August, 2011.

In addition to the prison terms, the couple will be required to pay nearly $600,000 in restitution.

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