Slayton woman pleads guilty to tax fraudSLAYTON — A Slayton woman charged with 11 felony counts of tax fraud earlier this year entered into a plea agreement Monday, pleading guilty to one count. Ten others were dismissed.
SLAYTON — A Slayton woman charged with 11 felony counts of tax fraud earlier this year entered into a plea agreement Monday, pleading guilty to one count. Ten others were dismissed.
“I filed the tax returns for the years stated,” Merrilee Stang admitted on the stand. “I changed the withholdings and didn’t include the pension distribution.”
Under questioning from Judge David Christensen, Stang admitted the changes and omissions were intentional and the result was she paid less in taxes than she should have.
According to the criminal complaint filed in March in Murray County District Court, Stang, 41, owes an estimated $54,674 to the Minnesota Department of Revenue (MDR). On tax returns dating back to 2003, she allegedly overstated withholdings, failed to report U.S. Treasury interest, overstated mortgage interest, claimed student loan interest and did not report income. The returns were filed jointly for her and her husband.
“Merrilee Stang has admitted preparing tax returns for herself and her husband, and therefore ... responsible for the information contained in the returns,” the complaint states.
Christensen ordered a pre-sentence investigation before a sentencing is handed down, but the plea agreement is for a 30-day jail sentence, 60 days on electronic home monitoring and five years of probation, as well as restitution and fines.
The amount of restitution will be determined after an audit by the MDR. Stang’s attorney, Daniel Birkholz, said all the years in question would be reviewed.
“My client has agreed to participate,” he added.
Birkholz also told the judge Stang would prefer to start serving her electronic home monitoring time before the scheduled sentencing date of July 12. She would also prefer to serve her jail time in Murray County, but was informed, Birkholz said, that the limited jail cells in Slayton were full for the next few weeks.
Stang worked for the Slayton Area Chamber of Commerce in 2003 and 2004, something she allegedly failed to report on her tax returns for either year.