The fourteen persons were indicted for their respective roles in the scheme. This trial in this case involved only two -- a preparer and a taxpayer. (The case does not say what happened to the other 12, but I suspect they pled or, perhaps, one or more died which would moot their cases.) I focus here on the preparer -- Johnson -- who prepared OID returns for taxpayers to sign. "The jury convicted Johnson on one count of making a false claim, and acquitted her on four other substantive counts and on conspiracy to commit tax fraud."
So, her sole count of conviction was making a false claim under 18 USC § 287, here. The crime is
18 U.S. Code § 287 - False, fictitious or fraudulent claimsJohnson, the preparer, first claimed that the taxpayer in the single count of conviction signed the return / claim and therefore was the only culpable person. The argument was a "but for" argument -- but for the taxpayer's fraud, the crime would not have been committed and therefore the preparer is not guilty. The Government had apparently charged Johnson under "causer" liability in 18 USC § 2(b), here. The Court agreed as follows:
Whoever makes or presents to any person or officer in the civil, military, or naval service of the United States, or to any department or agency thereof, any claim upon or against the United States, or any department or agency thereof, knowing such claim to be false, fictitious, or fraudulent, shall be imprisoned not more than five years and shall be subject to a fine in the amount provided in this title.