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Springfield woman sentenced to prison for fraud

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A Springfield woman was ordered to serve time in prison for her role in a tax fraud conspiracy involving a Christian County Jail inmate.

Heather Neal, 35, was sentenced May 7 by U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark to two years and six months in federal prison without parole, according to a news release from the office of Teresa Moore, acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Neal pleaded guilty in September 2020, to conspiring with John Sedersten, an inmate in the Christian County Jail in Ozark, and others to file fraudulent tax returns. Neal filed a tax return in her own name that fraudulently sought a $9,864 refund, according to the order.

Sedersten organized and led the conspiracy from inside the Ozark jail, where he’s serving a six-year, six month sentencing handed down in 2016, according to past reporting. Sedersten directed co-conspirators to report false wages and withholdings for JDS Enterprises, a company he registered.

Co-defendant Janet Kirby, 34, of Springfield, also has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing, according to the release.

The conspiracy in total sought $373,372 in tax refunds. All false claims but one were halted by the IRS, and the one refund issued was recovered by law enforcement agents, prosecutors say.

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