The operator of a California-based tax consulting business has been convicted by a federal jury in Fresno, Calif. for impersonating an aide to a U.S. Congressman in order to deceive a client, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Susan Tomsha-Miguel, 52, of Atwater, Calif., was convicted late yesterday, Feb. 26, 2013, of the sole count in the indictment against her: impersonating an officer or employee of the United States. The jury deliberated for only 15 minutes before returning a guilty verdict.
As the evidence at trial showed, Tomsha-Miguel operated a tax consulting and bookkeeping business in Atwater. A client, who owned a commercial business in Merced, Calif., hired Tomsha-Miguel to resolve a tax dispute with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Tomsha-Miguel requested help with the tax problems from the office of U.S. Representative Dennis A. Cardoza, who represents the 18th Congressional District – which includes Merced County, as well as parts of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Madera and Fresno Counties. As the evidence revealed, Representative Cardoza’s office agreed to help, and transmitted written material – including a form printed under his official Congressional letterhead – to Tomsha-Miguel.
According to the evidence presented in court, Tomsha-Miguel then sent her client a counterfeit letter written under Representative Cardoza’s official letterhead and purportedly written and signed by a congressional aide. The letter falsely claimed that due to Tomsha-Miguel’s efforts on behalf of her client, the aide had contacted an IRS official. The counterfeit letter claimed that the IRS official had agreed to make resolving the client’s tax dispute his “number one priority” after he returned from “Washington, D.C. for an emergency strategy meeting with the U.S. Treasury Secretary and others for a planning session in the event a budget does not get passed by both the House and Senate.”
In reality, the aide did not exist, and Tomsha-Miguel had forged the letterhead by copying the official letterhead onto a blank sheet of paper. The evidence also showed that Tomsha-Miguel had written the letter from the non-existent aide herself and then sent it to her client in order to mislead him into believing she had succeeded in alleviating his tax problems.
Tomsha-Miguel faces a maximum potential penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine at sentencing, currently scheduled for June 24, 2013 before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill, who presided over the trial.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Barak Cohen of the Public Integrity Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and investigated by the Sacramento, Calif. Division of the FBI.