On Friday morning, Caribbean-American accountant Pamela Watson,60, who was arrested on May 20 on 25 counts of wire fraud, money laundering and filing false tax claims pled guilty to the wire fraud charge in federal court in Fort Lauderdale as part of a plea agreement. She admitted committing the fraud through her tax preparation company, Watson & Associates Business Services, Inc., located in Miami.
Facing a possible sentence of 20 years on each charge, through the terms of the plea agreement Watson now faces a maximum sentence of 20 years only on the wire fraud charge and a $250,000 fine. She is due to return to court on December 4 for sentencing. In the meanwhile she has been denied bail, as the court sees her as a potential flight risk with her having significant assets and a residence in her home country, Jamaica.
According to the prosecution, Watson defrauded the IRS over $3.4 million by preparing and submitting fraudulent tax returns for over 180 of her clients. The prosecution alleged that between 2011 and 2014 after preparing tax returns for each client, Watson provided them with an accurate copy of the tax form showing their bona-fide cash refund, she subsequently prepared another tax return without the client’s knowledge showing a larger refund. On receiving the refunds on behalf of hew clients, she deposited the difference between the original and fraudulent return in several bank accounts she maintained, and paid the original amounts over to her clients. Watson was also found to have deposited $279,442, paid to her by clients for amounts they owed to the IRS, into her personal bank accounts.
As part of her plea agreement, Watson agreed to repay an estimated $700,000 she had in a Jamaican bank account to the U.S. government.