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Ceres mortgage broker sentenced to prison for filing false tax returns
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FRESNO - U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill has sentenced Maria Vega, 54, of Ceres, to six months in prison, to be followed by six months of home confinement, for filing a false tax return, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

Judge O'Neill also ordered Vega to pay $179,465 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. Vega has already repaid approximately $161,000 of that amount.

According to her plea agreement, Vega owned and operated Vega's Financial Services and was licensed as a broker by the California Department of Corporations. Vega earned income from working as a loan officer on mortgage transactions at Vega's Financial Services, and she also earned income as real estate agent in connection with the purchase, sale, and refinancing of residential properties. Although Vega received substantial income in tax years 2005, 2006 and 2007, she did not file federal income tax returns for tax years 2005 and 2006 until 2008. When Vega did file federal income tax returns in April 2008 for tax years 2005, 2006, and 2007, she substantially underreported both her income and tax due for those tax years. Vega reported taxable income of $0 for 2005, $21,692 for 2006, and $0 for 2007, but in fact she had substantially higher taxable income for each of these three years.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Kirk E. Sherriff and Michael G. Tierney prosecuted the case.