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Five people, including three South Bay residents, were sentenced this week for filing fraudulent tax returns claiming the first-time homebuyer credit.

The local defendants sentenced by U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner were:

Tanooa Sparks, 35, of Gardena, who was sentenced Tuesday to 12 months and one day in prison and ordered to pay $338,926 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. Sparks pleaded guilty last September to one count of conspiracy to submit false claims to the IRS and two counts of submitting false claims to the IRS.

Nadjara Payne, 26, of Inglewood, who was sentenced to eight months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $173,358 to the IRS. Payne pleaded guilty in March 2011 to one count of conspiracy to submit false claims to the IRS and one count of use of one or more unauthorized debit card account numbers.

Crystal Bennett, 29, of Gardena, who was sentenced earlier this week to four months in prison and ordered to pay $105,353.62 in restitution to the IRS after pleading guilty to conspiracy to submit false claims in November 2010.

- Donna Littlejohn



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