Judge sentences Paulina woman in tax-evasion case

A St. James Parish woman convicted of tax evasion and filing false income tax returns was sentenced Thursday to five years on probation and six months of home incarceration.

Laura A. Diggs, 41, of Paulina, pleaded guilty in August to under-reporting her tax preparation business’s income and falsely inflating items on client income tax forms to boost refunds, federal prosecutors said.

The defendant had operated Diggs Tax Service in Luling starting in 2003, preparing and filing federal income tax returns, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans said in a statement.

Diggs admitted to single counts of false statements on tax returns and assisting in the preparation of false tax documents, a plea agreement says.

According to a factual basis filed with her Aug. 9 plea, Diggs prepared 37 false income tax returns for customers between 2007 and 2009, inflating Schedule A expenses and deductions and resulting in the federal government overpaying $133,293 in refunds.

Between 2007 and 2009, Diggs also under-reported $766,761 in gross income for her business, avoiding $210,233 in tax liability, prosecutors said. Diggs has made full restitution to the IRS of $343,526.

In addition to probation, U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier also imposed on Diggs a $6,000 fine and a $200 special assessment, prosecutors said.