Bail bondsman pleads guilty to filing false tax return

COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - A Ridgeville man pleaded guilty Thursday for filing a false income tax return, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Kevin F. McDonald.

Ernest Monroe Smith, 38, admitted to willfully making and filing the false return as part of a plea agreement. Senior U.S. District Judge Sol Blatt Jr. will sentence Smith at a later date. He faces up to $250,000 in fines, three years in prison, one year probation and the costs of prosecution.

Federal agents say Smith, who operates Ernest Smith Bail Bonds in the St. George area, received the majority of his bond fees in cash in 2005 and 2006. Smith deposited the fees in increments over time into his business bank account, which gave the appearance that his taxable income was less than the actual amount.

Smith admitted in court that he only reported gross receipts of $182,345 from his bail bonding business on his 2006 tax return, when he actually had at least $463,318 in gross receipts. Smith also understated his gross receipts in 2005.

As part of the plea agreement, Smith acknowledged that the tax loss over the two-year period was $149,505.

Agents from the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, investigated the case.

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