Taressa Hightower, of Georgia, pleaded guilty to two counts of filing false tax returns in connection with bogus charitable organizations.
Between 2010 and 2015 Hightower received more than $650,000 from a bank in Boston for two non-profit organizations that claimed to serve underprivileged children in Atlanta, Georgia. The money Hightower received were the proceeds of an embezzlement scheme perpetrated by Palestine Ace, an employee of the bank, who was married to Jonathan Ace, a relative of Hightower’s. In exchange for the ‘donations’ Hightower agreed to return 25% of the money to the Aces as a secret kickback.
None of the funds were used for charitable purposes. Hightower spent the money on personal expenses and for 2013 and 2014 filed false personal and business tax returns. She claimed significant amounts of non-existent and inflated business expenses in order to lower her personal tax liability.
Palestine and Jonathan Ace were convicted of embezzlement in 2018 and sentenced to one and two years in prison, respectively.
Hightower faces a maximum sentence of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.