- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) - A Missouri woman has been ordered to spend nearly five years in federal prison and repay roughly $604,000 for her role in a tax-fraud scheme.

Thirty-four-year-old Tanya Nichols of St. Louis was sentenced Friday in East St. Louis. She pleaded guilty in March to charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and theft of government property.

Authorities say Nichols paid finder’s fees to recruiters and promised clients “free money,” then filed tax returns using false or inflated refundable tax credits.

Prosecutors say her half-brother, 30-year-old Justin Durley of Hazelwood, Missouri, recruited people for Nichols, including an undercover IRS criminal investigator.

Durley pleaded guilty in April to a charge of theft of government property and was sentenced to three months in prison. He also has to repay nearly $7,500.

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