A former Forsyth County commissioner who was convicted of federal tax fraud will be sentenced at the end of July.
Everette Leon Witherspoon Jr. pleaded guilty in March to one count of filing a fraudulent tax return and one count of failure to file a tax return. A federal grand jury had initially indicted Witherspoon on three counts of filing a false tax return and one count of failing to file a tax return.
He was scheduled to be sentenced on May 26, but courts are largely closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A sentencing hearing will now be held on July 31 at the federal courthouse in Winston-Salem.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Witherspoon could face four years in prison, but under a plea agreement, prosecutors said they would recommended a shorter sentence. Judges don’t have to adhere to those sentencing recommendations. Witherspoon also will have to pay at least $207,060 — the amount of income taxes he failed to pay — to the federal government.
Witherspoon, who served two terms on the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, was charged as part of a tax-fraud scheme that ensnared five other people, including a former president of the Winston-Salem NAACP.
Federal prosecutors allege that Witherspoon filed tax returns in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. In each of those years, he didn’t report income he made as a commissioner and under-reported income he made through his mental-health company, which was called Chris’s Rehablative Services LLC. Witherspoon described the Greensboro-based company on his Facebook page as one of the largest providers of “Psycho Social Rehabilitation services in North Carolina.” The company has since dissolved.
Witherspoon co-owned two tax-preparation companies at the center of the tax-fraud scheme — Fast Tax of Winston-Salem and Quick Taxes LLC in Greensboro. The indictments didn’t accuse Witherspoon of filing false tax returns on behalf of anyone but himself.
But court documents did indicate that one of the other people convicted in the tax-fraud scheme prepared the tax returns for his company — Claudia Lynette Shivers. Shivers is serving nearly two years in prison after she was convicted of conspiring to defraud the United States by filing false tax returns.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Shivers conspired with three other people, who have all been convicted, to prepare 519 false tax returns that claimed $1.3 million in fraudulent tax refunds. Shivers co-owned both Fast Tax and Quick Taxes. The three other people convicted were S. Wayne Patterson, past president of the Winston-Salem NAACP and a former lawyer; Kristyn Dion Daney and Rakeem Lenell Scales.
Patterson also co-owned Quick Taxes.
Willie Lee Cole Jr., Witherspoon’s business partner in Chris’s Rehablative Services, also owned Quick Taxes. Cole was convicted in connection to the tax-fraud scheme and is currently serving six months in prison on a misdemeanor charge of failing to file tax returns.