• 59°

Tax fraud trial postponed for former county superintendent

The trial of a former Lawrence County Schools superintendent charged with tax fraud has been postponed again.

Harold J. “Bucky” Shafer, 66, of Pedro, was scheduled to stand trial in Ohio’s Southern District Court for 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 on Oct. 15, but that date was continued to Dec. 17.

The December date was also continued after Shafer’s attorney, Kevin Conner, filed a motion to continue the trial citing Shafer’s “current medical condition.”

“Mr. Shafer’s present medical condition does not allow for him to participate in the preparation of his defense or otherwise evaluate resolutions short of trial,” the motion stated, requesting a 90-day continuance.

On March 23 of this year, Conner filed another motion to continue, this time for six months, citing health reasons. That motion was granted earlier this month.

A follow-up status conference was set for Sept. 17 by teleconference before Judge Michael R. Barrett.

Shafer was arraigned in April 2013 and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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

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.