A former president of the Winston-Salem chapter of the NAACP who also once worked as a Forsyth County magistrate will spend about a year in prison on federal charges of helping prepare a false tax return.
Shannon DeWayne Patterson, who also goes by S. Wayne Patterson, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court to 13 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $60,800 in restitution to theIRS. He pleaded guilty on Nov. 13, 2017, to aiding and assisting in the preparation of a fraudulent tax return.
Patterson told U.S. District Judge William L. Osteen Jr. on Thursday that he was sorry for what he had done.
“Today I stand before you remorseful, guilty as sin for my actions,” Patterson said. “I asked my wife and my kids to forgive me. I disgraced them.”
He said he is a good person but knows that his actions disgraced his family and his work as a Forsyth County magistrate and as a deacon in his church.
“My kids thought I was a hero, but I’m not a hero,” he said. “I am guilty and the only thing I ask is for my family to forgive me.”
Patterson said his wife, who attended the hearing, and his four children have forgiven him.
“If I could go back and change the hands of time, I would, but I can’t,” he said. “I pray for your mercy about my sentencing.”
Patterson, a lawyer licensed to practice in Georgia, ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for a seat on the Winston-Salem City Council in 2009 and as a candidate for N.C. House District 72 in 2012. He served two terms as the president of the local chapter of the NAACP. He decided not to run for a third term in 2015.
In January 2017, Judge Todd Burke, the senior resident judge of Forsyth Superior Court, appointed Patterson to a two-year term as a Forsyth County magistrate. Patterson resigned that position in November 2017, three days after he pleaded guilty in federal court to the tax-fraud charge.
In May, the Georgia Supreme Court granted Patterson’s request for an interim suspension of his law license until after his sentencing. It was not clear what the Georgia State Bar might do about Patterson’s law license now that he has been sentenced. Patterson was never licensed to practice law in North Carolina.
According to court documents, federal prosecutors said Patterson, co-owned and operated two tax-preparation businesses, both called “Fast Tax,” in Salisbury and Kannapolis between January and May 2015. Prosecutors said Patterson helped prepare numerous individual tax returns that included false information so clients could get the largest tax refunds possible.
Federal prosecutors said Patterson employed people to prepare tax returns and told them to manipulate information on the tax returns to “maximize the clients’ tax refunds.”
They said he also falsified his own tax returns for 2014 and 2015, on which he underreported his own income.
Patterson faced at least two years in prison based on advisory guidelines, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Clifton Barrett said in court that he supported a 30 percent reduction of whatever sentence Osteen handed down. Osteen said he decided to reduce the sentence to 13 months based on a number of factors. He cited the fact that Patterson worked his way out of poverty in Cleveland Avenue Homes in Winston-Salem and went to college and law school. Osteen also said he was impressed that Patterson sought work as a truck driver after his law license was suspended after he lost his job as a Forsyth County magistrate.
“That to me is one of the extraordinary things I have seen,” the judge said.
Osteen noted in court that Patterson had met with federal prosecutors three separate times, and Barrett said the information Patterson provided led to the conviction of another person.
Barrett was referring to Claudia Shivers, who pleaded guilty in August to one count of conspiring to defraud the United States by filing false tax returns. Federal prosecutors alleged that Shivers, Patterson and another person owned and operated a tax-return business called Fast Tax of Winston-Salem Inc. on Liberty Street. Shivers and two other people also owned and operated a tax-return business named Quick Taxes LLC in Greensboro.
Prosecutors said Shivers and others prepared 519 false tax returns, resulting in $1.3 million in refunds.
David Freedman, Patterson’s attorney, said his client cooperated from the beginning. He said Patterson spent his life working hard to pull himself out of poverty. After he lost his ability to practice law and his job as a magistrate, Patterson got a license to become a truck driver, Freedman said.
Shivers is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 20. Two other co-defendants, Rakeem Scales and Kristyn Dion Daney, are scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 25.
Patterson must report to federal prison on March 14, 2019.