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Former IRS Employee Pleads Guilty to Accepting a Bribe

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2009

Las Vegas, Nev. – A former IRS compliance officer in Las Vegas has pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe in exchange for preparing a false audit report for a taxpayer, announced Greg Brower, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

Fernando Cruz, 43, of Shady Grove, Oregon, pleaded guilty on August 26, 2009, to one count of Public Official Accepting a Gratuity, and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 24, 2009, at 10:00 a.m. by U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan.

In 2008, Cruz was employed as a tax compliance officer for the IRS in Las Vegas. IRS employees are prohibited from preparing tax returns for compensation, gifts or favors and are required to report any attempted bribes to the IRS. In about May 2008, Cruz was assigned to audit the individual joint tax return of a Las Vegas couple. At an initial meeting with the couple at Cruz's office, Cruz provided his personal cellular telephone number to the female member of the couple and told her to call him if she ever had tax questions or wanted him to prepare their taxes. The couple told their accountant about Cruz's offer, and then reported it to the Tax Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The couple agreed to work with investigators and to have monitored calls and meetings with Cruz On June 14, 2008, Cruz went to the couple's home and reviewed the couple's tax records and told the woman he could "fudge" their tax records so they would have less tax liability. Cruz coached the woman how to answer questions during an upcoming audit appointment she had with him on June 24, and specifically instructed her to say that she did not have receipts to verify expenses. Cruz also accepted $500 in cash from the woman and was told that he would receive another $500 if he could make their tax liability go away. On June 24, 2008, the woman met with Cruz at his IRS office as planned, and Cruz prepared an IRS income form with the false information she provided. Cruz also mentioned that the woman might assist him in finding an apartment in exchange for his help to the couple on their audit. Both of the meetings were electronically monitored.

The maximum sentence that could be imposed against Cruz is two years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. He is released on a personal recognizance bond.

The case was investigated by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas D. Dickinson.

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