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Church Accountant Receives 4-Year Prison Sentence for Tax Evasion and Wire Fraud Crimes

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    A press release recently issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicates that on August 25, 2017, Barbara Snyder, 59, of West Salem, Wisconsin, a former church accounting clerk, pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and tax evasion. On Thursday, November 9, Jeffrey M. Anderson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Snyder was sentenced to four years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson. The investigation into Snyder’s financial activities was initiated by the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS): merely one among thousands of prosecutions recommended each year.

    Defendant Sentenced to 4 Years in Embezzlement, Tax Evasion Scheme Involving Church Funds

    Prior to being criminally charged, Snyder was employed as a combination secretary and accounting clerk by St. Patrick’s Church in Onalaska, Wisconsin. Snyder likely believed her professional knowledge of tax law would enable her to elude detection by the IRS, but as demonstrated by her conviction (and many convictions obtained under similar circumstances), it is increasingly difficult for taxpayers to conceal acts of fraud or deception. If a taxpayer is concerned about a past failure to comply with the law, his or her safest course of action is to immediately consult an experienced tax attorney. Whether the act of noncompliance concerns a failure to report income, failure to file taxes, failure to maintain records, or other violations, a CPA-Attorney can execute a legal strategy designed to help the taxpayer keep negative civil and criminal repercussions to a minimum.

    Returning to the case at hand, Snyder was, in her capacity as secretary and accounting clerk, entrusted with management of church collections. From the period spanning 2006 to 2015, Snyder embezzled from collections an amount of roughly $832,210. Rather than depositing the church collections as required by her job duties, Snyder retained funds to spend on personal pursuits like gambling.

    Snyder took several actions, all of which were ultimately unsuccessful, to avoid attracting notice by the government. According to the DOJ press release, “Snyder discarded records of church collections, created false entries in accounting records, and lied to church auditors.” Additionally, in failing to disclose the income she (illegally) obtained through embezzlement of church funds, Snyder filed a false federal income tax return in 2015.

    Snyder was eventually targeted for an IRS criminal investigation, led by CID with assistance from her former employer, St. Patrick’s Church, and the Diocese of La Crosse. After pleading guilty to charges of tax evasion and wire fraud, Snyder was sentenced to four years in prison. Specifically, Judge Peterson sentenced the defendant to two concurrent sentences: one four-year sentence for the wire fraud offense, to be served concurrently with a one-year sentence imposed for the tax evasion offense. Judge Peterson was critical of Snyder’s conduct during sentencing, noting the financial harm inflicted upon the local church community.

    Los Angeles, CA CPA-Attorneys for Tax Fraud Investigations

    CID statistical data shows that nearly 3,400 taxpayers were investigated for suspected tax crimes during 2016 alone. The majority of these investigations resulted in recommendations for criminal prosecution, culminating in nearly 2,700 sentences being handed down. The bulk of those sentenced – just under 80% – spent time behind bars for their crimes. These statistics serve as a stern reminder of the importance of complying with tax laws, which are both aggressively enforced and harshly penalized when violations occur. Even if a violation is accidental rather than deliberate, costly civil penalties are still a potential outcome.

    Guidance from a skilled California Criminal Tax Defense Attorney can ensure that you navigate the Tax Code safely, complying with the law while simultaneously making strategic financial decisions. If you have already become the target of, or believe you are at high risk for, an IRS civil tax audit or criminal investigation, aggressive representation by an IRS tax audit attorney or tax crime defense attorney is essential to protecting your rights throughout the process.

    Whether you are in need of general tax planning services, audit representation, or legal representation in a criminal matter, the California business tax lawyers and business accountants at the Tax Law Office of David W. Klasing have over 20 years of experience assisting taxpayers who face the potential of criminal prosecution. On the other hand, strategic tax planning can ensure that you fully adhere to the law while seizing all opportunities provided by the U.S. Tax Code. To discuss your tax and accounting needs in a reduced-rate consultation with our firm contact the Tax Law Office of David W. Klasing online, or call us today at (800) 681-1295.

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