Each week, we attempt to bring our readers the most pertinent news with regard to tax legislation, administration, and adjudication. Frequently, we post stories about taxpayers who engage in tax fraud and are sentenced to prison because of it. There are likely some readers who believe that those who receive jail time for tax fraud are rare exceptions and that the government wouldn’t spend taxpayer dollars to prosecute and seek jail time for every individual that is believed to have violated the law. But as the recent sentencing of a civil rights champion has demonstrated: it doesn’t matter who you are, if you have committed a tax crime, you will go to prison.
According to reports of several news outlets, Representative Tyrone Brooks, 70, who served in the Georgia House of Representatives for over 35 years, was sentenced to serve a year and a day in a federal prison for tax fraud and wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg handed down the ruling last week. Brooks, who had dedicated his life to public service, had been involved in politics for over 55 years prior to his resignation in 2015.
At trial, prosecutors showed that Brooks made material misrepresentations when soliciting for donations that were purportedly going to be used to fund programs that Brooks had set up to help underprivileged children learn to read in Georgia. He told potential supporters that the programs were wildly successful and that they needed additional funding to grow. In reality, federal prosecutors showed that most of the funding for the literacy program had gone to pay for Brooks’ personal expenses. Prosecutors and the judge both agreed that although Brooks was not living an extravagant lifestyle on the dime of those who donated to the program, he had not used the funds for the purposes that he had represented.
The defense team for Brooks had argued that he was the victim of poor bookkeeping. They based their defense strategy on the premise that the professionals hired by Brooks had commingled the funds of the literacy program to such an extent that it was impossible for him to decipher what were personal funds and were funds meant for his charitable program. Federal prosecutors took the position that bookkeeping blunders weren’t to blame and that Brooks had compounded his problems by making patently false statements to potential donors.
When the federal judge sentenced Brooks, she recognized his extensive career in public service. But in doing so, also stated that probation was not appropriate in this case. Her consideration of Brooks’ contributions to the community and reluctance to allow him to serve out his sentence at home goes to show that no matter who you are, if you have committed a federal tax crime, a stay in a federal prison is likely in the cards for you. Brooks is set to appear in front of Judge Totenberg again later this year to determine how much restitution he will be ordered to pay, which will likely be more than $250,000.
If your affairs are being scrutinized by the IRS or state taxing authorities, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced tax attorney as soon as possible. Even if you believe that you can talk your way out of an investigation, it is highly likely that you will end up talking your way into a federal or state prosecution. The IRS and state taxing authorities send their very best investigators and prosecutors to do battle. They know what questions to ask to solicit incriminating responses. Only an experienced tax attorney can provide a buffer between you and the government.
The tax and accounting professionals at the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing have extensive experience in assisting taxpayers with various types of tax issues. Whether you are being audited, investigated, or prosecuted, our knowledgeable and highly effective team is ready and willing to zealously advocate for your physical and financial freedom. Don’t go up against the government alone. Contact the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing today at (800) 681-1295 or online for a reduced-rate consultation.