MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- The owner of an Odessa-based tax service pleaded guilty today in federal court to two counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation of a false tax return.

According to court documents, 45-year-old Rita Elia Sanchez, owner and operator of Rita’s Tax Service, willfully and knowingly helped prepare false Forms 1040 on behalf of her clients from 2016 through 2018. 

The Justice Department says Sanchez portrayed herself as experienced as a return preparer, and led her clients to believe she understood how to maximize deductions and tax refunds, but it was found that Sanchez would inflate or even fabricate items on returns – often without client knowledge. She would also rarely review the return with clients, so they could not identify false items on these returns.

There is no set sentencing date. Sanchez faces a max penalty of three years and prison, and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count. Sanchez has also agreed to pay the IRS $7.9 million, as part of her plea deal.

Sanchez is also now prohibited by law from preparing or filing federal tax returns for anyone other than herself.