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Accountant pleads in bogus returns case

The operator of a Tampa accounting business has pleaded guilty to conspiring with another man to make false statements for bank loans worth $325,000, according to federal court records.

Ronald E. Brace, 49, the operator of Brace Accounting Services, prepared bogus tax returns last year for an air-conditioning business owner who falsely claimed to be worth $4-million, but who had in fact been in prison during much of 1996 and 1997, according to Brace's plea agreement.

It said the bogus tax returns, for which Brace charged $150 each, were used to obtain lines of credit and loans from an AmSouth branch office in Brandon for a 50-foot boat and a Chevrolet Suburban.

Brace faces a potential maximum sentence of five years in prison.

"I'm heartbroken it even happened," Brace said Tuesday. "That's the only comment I can make."