A Portland tax preparer who was charged last year with helping file 11 false tax returns for other people pleaded guilty in federal court this week.

Ashraf Eldeknawey, 47, pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false income tax returns in a plea deal with prosecutors. He faces up to three years in prison, a $250,000 fine and up to $100,000 in restitution.

Eldeknawey ran his business from the back of the former Ahram Halal Market at 630 Forest Avenue, and, according to prosecutors, Eldeknawey prepared tax returns for a couple that inflated the amount of their 2015 self-employment income and expenses. The scheme artificially changed the couple’s gross income and made them eligible for the earned income tax credit, which applies to people with low income and who have dependents or children.

The clients are referred to only by their initials, YG and MT, and are among 11 of Eldeknawey’s customers who were cited into the 2018 indictment as receiving refunds that were fraudulently increased with a similar technique.

Eldeknawey agreed in the plea that his conduct caused the IRS to lose between $40,000 and $100,000, and as part of the agreement, he will repay in restitution the amount of the loss.

In a separate federal case, the former owner of the market where Eldeknawey ran his business was sentenced to three years in federal prison for what was perhaps the state’s largest government benefits scam.

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