Councilwoman charged after Channel 2 investigation

Investigators say this is the first of many charges they expect to file relating to tax fraud allegations first uncovered by our series of investigations last year.

SOUTH FULTON, Ga. — A Hapeville city councilwoman is under arrest, facing a new felony charge after a Channel 2 Action News investigation.

Agents from Georgia's Department of Revenue took Ruth Barr into custody Wednesday afternoon. They said it's the first of many charges they expect to file relating to tax fraud allegations first uncovered by our series of investigations last year.

Agents said Barr lied about being an enrolled agent, which is a special designation given out by the Internal Revenue Service.

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Investigators said it's just one of the many misrepresentations Barr made to her clients as well.

"It's kind of a pattern we've noticed. We're working on a much larger case that we hope to indict soon," said Josh Waites, Chief Investigator for Georgia's Department of Revenue.

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Barr is facing one count of perjury for allegedly lying under oath in a 2013 deposition.

She claimed to be an enrolled agent, but the IRS confirmed to Channel 2 and state investigators that that is not true.

Barr also listed herself as an enrolled agent on her business letterhead.

"That's a designation the IRS gives out that requires a lot of training and certification and puts you at a higher standard," Waites said.

The deposition followed an investment scheme in which Barr defrauded a former tax client out of nearly $200,000.

It's just part of Barr's trail of financial troubles and allegations.

Our investigation first raised questions about Barr's tax preparation business last April, and led to the largest tax fraud case of its kind in state history.

Thousands of metro area taxpayers who trusted her to file their returns now have to pay back inflated refunds they received from the state.

Investigators estimate those repayments will total $6.4 million.

"We just hope the people will make the right decision and review their returns before they file them," Waites said.

On Tuesday night, a deputy went to the Hapeville council meeting to serve Barr and her daughter, Anne Barr Cruz, with an injunction to keep them from doing taxes this year.

After whispering with the mayor, Barr abruptly left the meeting while the deputy was in the restroom. The deputy later caught up with Barr at her daughter's home.

Barr will have 30 days to appeal that injunction, which agents hope will send a message to any clients Barr has left.

"With everything going on, I would be very careful about using them. That's why we filed the injunction to hopefully keep that from happening," said Waites.

Barr will have to spend the night in the Fulton County jail; she's scheduled to have a bond hearing.

She's also awaiting trial on a different felony charge in Gwinnett County. That one stems from a fraud allegation by a member of her family in 2013.