Brad Charles Fisher, an Insurance Salesman, Convicted of Tax Evasion in U.S. Federal Court
The United States Attorney's Office announced that on May 9, 2013, in Helena, after a federal district court trial before Senior U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell, BRAD CHARLES FISHER, 51, a former resident of Helena and a current resident of Kenmore, Washington, was found guilty of attempt to evade or defeat income tax. Sentencing is set for September 13, 2013. He is currently released on special conditions.
At trial, the following evidence and testimony was presented to the jury.
From April 2006 until January 2008, FISHER attempted to evade and defeat the payment of an income tax due and owing by him to the United States for the calendar years 2001 to 2006 by concealing and attempting to conceal from the Internal Revenue Service the nature and extent of his assets and by making false statements to Internal Revenue Service agents.
From 2001 through 2006, FISHER earned substantial amounts of income by selling insurance products. However, FISHER did not file any tax returns for these years until mid-2006. After IRS commenced a civil audit of FISHER for the 2001-03 tax years, and later sent him a notice of tax deficiency for this period, FISHER eventually filed his 2001-06 returns. In these tax returns, FISHER reported that he earned income and owed tax. However, contrary to his accountant's instruction, he only paid a small portion of his tax due. By FISHER's own estimation, he owed a total of about $444,761 in tax for 2001-06 (not including interest and penalties). He paid a total of about $44,444. Accordingly, IRS referred this case to its Collections division. An IRS agent was assigned to collect FISHER's back taxes, and he contacted FISHER in or about April 2006 to initiate the collections process. The agent asked that FISHER fill out a Collection Information Statement, which calls for the taxpayer to disclose his assets.
When the agent first met with FISHER on May 9, 2006, FISHER provided a partially filled out Collection Information Statement. Because the form did not list any motor vehicles, the agent asked FISHER what motor vehicles he owned. FISHER listed several cars, but failed to mention four to which he held title at the time: a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette, a 1974 Chevrolet Nova, a 1996 GMC K-1500, and a 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe. FISHER also failed to mention a 2004 Chaparral boat that he owned, until the agent inquired about a reference to a boat in FISHER's bank records during a later meeting. Even then, FISHER said he had "no equity" in the boat, when in fact he sold it shortly thereafter and received $17,227 net of encumbrances.
In late 2006, as it became apparent that FISHER was not selling assets voluntarily, the IRS began to take steps to levy certain of his assets. On April 9, 2007, FISHER sent a second Collection Information Statement to the agent. Again, however, it failed to disclose a vehicle that FISHER owned, this time a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado that he had recently purchased. As IRS Collections proceeded toward seizure of FISHER's assets, FISHER filed for bankruptcy on November 14, 2007. It was only during a subsequent bankruptcy hearing that the agent learned about the vintage classic cars that FISHER had previously concealed.
In addition to the agent's testimony and presentation of Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) records concerning the concealed vehicles, the government offered testimony from the persons that sold certain cars (and the boat) to FISHER, as well as from the buyers who later purchased the vehicles from him. FISHER's travel agent also testified that, during the time his tax debt was outstanding, FISHER purchased expensive vacation packages instead, belying any suggestion that FISHER attempted to pay his debt in good faith.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Chad C. Spraker and Department of Justice Tax Trial Attorney Joseph Rillotta prosecuted the case for the United States.
FISHER faces possible penalties of 5 years in prison, a $100,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service.