Former Forsyth County commissioner Everette Levon Witherspoon Jr. was indicted this week on charges that he filed false tax returns three years in a row and that he failed to file a tax return, the U.S. Justice Department said in a news release Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors accuse Witherspoon of not reporting the money he made as a commissioner and under-reporting income from the mental-health company in Greensboro that he started in 2009. That company is called Chris’s Rehablative Services LLC. Prosecutors also say Witherspoon did not file a tax return in 2012, even though he received enough gross income to require that he file one.
A federal grand jury handed down indictments on Monday charging Witherspoon with three counts of filing a false tax return and one count of failing to file a tax return. If convicted, Witherspoon faces a statutory maximum prison sentence of three years for each of the three counts of filing a false tax return. He also faces one year in prison for the one count of filing a false tax return. Witherspoon would also face supervised release and financial penalties if convicted.
The indictments were unsealed Wednesday when Witherspoon was taken into custody. He was given a $10,000 bond. Witherspoon could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Ira Richard Knight, did not immediately return a message seeking comment late Wednesday afternoon. His next court date is Oct. 9, according to court records.
Witherspoon, who served for two terms on the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, is the fifth person to be charged in connection to a tax-fraud scheme that operated partly out of Fast Tax of Winston-Salem on Liberty Street.
Last year, Tonya McDaniels defeated Witherspoon for a seat on the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners during the Democratic primary and went on to win the seat in the general election.
Federal prosecutors have said in July during a sentencing of one of the people that they planned to indict two more people.
Witherspoon co-owned Fast Tax with Claudia Lynette Shivers and S. Wayne Patterson. He, Shivers and another person, who has not been charged, also co-owned another tax-preparation company in Greensboro called Quick Taxes LLC.
Shivers and Patterson were both charged, convicted and sentenced for their roles in the tax-fraud scheme that also ensnared two other people. In July, Shivers was sentenced nearly two years in federal prison after she pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to defraud the United States by filing false tax returns.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Shivers conspired with three other people — Patterson, Kristyn Dion Daney and Rakeem Lenell Scales — to prepare 519 false tax returns for Fast Tax and Quick Taxes that claimed $1.3 million in fraudulent tax refunds.
Patterson, past president of the Winston-Salem NAACP, former magistrate and a former lawyer, was sentenced last year to 13 months in prison last year after being convicted for his role. Daney was sentenced to nine months in prison and Scales was placed on three years of probation. All four people were ordered to pay restitution in various amounts.
The indictments do not allege that Witherspoon worked with Shivers, Patterson, Daney and Scales in preparing his personal tax returns.
Fast Tax dissolved in 2019 for failure to file annual reports. Quick Taxes dissolved in 2015 for the same reason, according to records from the N.C. Secretary of State.
Chris’s Rehablative Services has dissolved twice — first in 2012 and then again in 2017. It is currently active but it has received a notice for dissolution for failing to file annual reports, records from the N.C. Secretary of State say.
According to his public Facebook page, Witherspoon describes himself as a Democratic strategist and claims that he has grown Chris’s Rehablative Services into the largest provider of “Psycho Social Rehabilitation services in North Carolina” and that he expanded his business in Atlanta.
The company is no longer active in Atlanta after the company was involuntarily dissolved for failure to file annual reports and failure to maintain a registered agent.