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Former county superintendent denies federal fraud charges

CINCINNATI — A former Lawrence County Schools Superintendent accused of tax fraud denied charges Thursday in Ohio’s Southern District Court.

Harold J. “Bucky” Shafer, 66, of Pedro, was arraigned on 10 counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false and fraudulent income tax returns and two counts of filing false income tax returns. Shafer pleaded not guilty to all charges and was released on his own recognizance.

Judge Michael R. Barrett will schedule a trial in the next couple of days, according to Fred Alverson, public affairs officer for the district court.

Shafer was indicted by a federal grand jury earlier in March.

The indictment alleges that Shafer, through his tax preparation service, prepared returns for customers that falsely reported that the taxpayers were entitled to claim deductions he knew they were not entitled to.

Shafer is alleged to have filed fraudulent tax returns on his own behalf for two years, saying he made less than he knew to be true.

Shafer was the county schools superintendent from 1993 to 2008. He was an educator in Lawrence County for 42 years

Each count of the indictment is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Grimes is representing the United States in this case.