Judge orders lien placed on former accountant's property

Clients claim errors in tax filing cost them money
By Juliette Laaka | Jan 29, 2014

Rockland — A Knox County Superior Court Judge ordered a lien placed on a Rockport woman's property pending a civil suit where the plaintiff's are likely to be awarded damages as a result of improperly filed taxes.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm ordered a $20,000 attachment on real estate owned by Valerie Alex, as there is a danger Alex may attempt to hide assets from the court pending a judgement, said court papers.

In a complaint filed Jan. 17 by plaintiffs Randy and Jennifer Sturks of Rockland, the couple claims Alex promoted herself as a certified public accountant when they hired her to prepare and file their state and federal taxes. During this time, and unknown to the Sturkses, Alex's certification was expired.

The Sturkses hired Alex on several occasions from 2012 to 2013, according to the suit. Alex's accountancy firm license expired Dec. 31, 2009, yet she continued to advertise as a certified accountant. Her license to practice as a certified public accountant expired in 2012, yet she continued to work in that capacity knowing she was not licensed to do so, according to court papers.

Alex also did not notify the plaintiffs she lost her privilege to file taxes electronically, and further attest she did not file their taxes on two occasions in a timely manner.

Penalties the Sturkess have incurred as a result of the improperly filed taxes due to Alex's negligence has resulted in a total cost of about  $20,000, said court papers.

In September 2012, Alex's license to practice as an accountant was revoked and she was ordered by the Maine Board of Accountancy to cease advertising herself as an accountant. As of November 2013, Alex still maintained her business sign on Route 90 in Warren as well as her website, said the suit.

The complaint states Alex improperly calculated deductions, resulting in a substantial underpayment of taxes, subjecting the plaintiff's to $6,000 of penalties and interest.

The plaintiffs aver Alex acted with malice when she worked for them, knowing she was not certified to do the work they requested without their knowledge. The Sturkes are also requesting punitive damages in the case.

The Sturkses are represented by Camden attorney Christopher MacLean.

A message seeking comment from Alex was not immediately returned.

Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at jlaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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