IRS Employee Charged with Accepting a Bribe and Stealing a Refund
Las Vegas, Nev. – An IRS employee in Las Vegas has been charged with accepting a bribe in exchange for preparing a false audit report for a taxpayer, and stealing another taxpayer's federal income tax refund and economic stimulus check, announced Greg Brower, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Fernando Cruz, of Shady Grove, Oregon, is charged in a three-count indictment returned on October 22, 2008, with one count of Public Official Accepting a Bribe and two counts of Wire Fraud. Cruz was employed as a tax compliance officer for the IRS in Las Vegas and had received information regarding ethics and IRS employee conduct. Cruz was prohibited from preparing tax returns for compensation, gifts or favors, prohibited from using his public office for private gain, and was required to report any attempted bribes to the IRS.
The bribery charge alleges that in about May 2008, Cruz was assigned to audit the individual joint tax return of a Las Vegas couple. On about June 14, 2008, Cruz allegedly accepted $1,000 in cash and assistance in finding an apartment in exchange for performing a favorable audit of the couple's 2006 joint individual tax return.
The fraud charges allege that on March 9, 2008, Cruz prepared a 2007 federal individual tax return for a taxpayer. Without the taxpayer's permission, Cruz allegedly placed his own bank account number and bank routing number on the taxpayer's tax return. As a result, the taxpayer's $1,109.29 income tax refund and $728 economic stimulus payment were electronically deposited into Cruz's bank account. When the taxpayer asked Cruz why he had not received his tax refund, Cruz falsely told the taxpayer that he would contact the IRS, when Cruz knew that he did not intend to call the IRS because the refund and stimulus payment had been deposited into Cruz' bank account.
Cruz was arraigned in federal court on Friday, October 31, 2008, and pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is released on a personal recognizance bond pending trial, currently scheduled to begin on December 22, 2008.
The case is being investigated by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas D. Dickinson.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.