In 2008 the Reverend Jim Lee Shepherd (Ph.D) operated a tax preparation service out of the New Heaven & Earth Christian Center Church in Los Angeles. He was hired by several taxpayers to prepare their 2007 tax returns and in at least three cases he stole their tax refunds.
According to the charges, each of the taxpayers was entitled to a refund for the 2007 tax year. One taxpayer was to receive $3,573 and others were entitled to receive $2,853 and $566 respectively. Instead of putting his clients’ bank account numbers on their tax returns, he filled in the number from a church account for which he was the sole signatory. Shepherd then transferred the embezzled money from the church account to his personal account.
On September 30, Shepherd agreed to plead guilty to embezzling client funds and stealing money belonging to the U.S. government. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines he could be sentenced to ten years in federal prison and be ordered to pay a fine of $250,000. The ten year potential sentence includes an additional 2 years because Shepherd abused a position of trust, presumably because he was the spiritual leader of his victims.
Sentencing is set for December 13, 2010 in the United States District Court, Central District of California. (Case 2:10-cr-00697-JHN.)