Published: July 10, 2013 Updated 5 hours ago

TAMPA — Fernando Torres, 41, Sarasota, pleaded guilty Wednesday to aiding in the preparation of fraudulent tax returns, announced acting U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III.

Torres faces a maximum penalty of six years in federal prison.

Torres operated a tax preparation business in Sarasota catering mostly to an illegal immigrant population iaround Sarasota County, according to Bentley.

During 2011 and 2012, Torres prepared and filed 239 fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service, Bentley said.

Torres reportedly ensured his clients obtained refunds by falsely claiming one or more qualified dependents. In order to increase refund amounts, Torres also fraudulently claimed the Additional Child Tax Credit.

The IRS paid out $697,573 in fraudulent tax refunds. Had Torres completed returns accurately, most of his clients would have owed money to the IRS, according to Bentley.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Sarasota Police Department.

It was prosecuted by assistant U.S. Attorney Simon Gaugush.