BELLEVUE WOMAN SENTENCED TO 15 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR FAILING TO PAY EMPLOYMENT TAXES
Defendant Failed to Pay $2.4 Million Withheld from Employee Paychecks
MICHELLE L. BIELASKI, 48, of Bellevue, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 15 months in prison, two years of supervised release, and $2,478,002 in restitution for Failure to Pay Over Tax. BIELASKI pleaded guilty in June 2009, admitting that as secretary and treasurer of Falcon Construction, Inc. of Bellevue, she was responsible for failing to send to the Internal Revenue Service taxes that the company withheld from employee paychecks. The failure to pay over the taxes occurred over a ten year period from 1997 to 2007. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez said it was a sad, even tragic day for BIELASKI and her family but he noted that the family’s expensive lifestyle was paid for by her criminal failure to pay the taxes.
In her plea agreement, BIELASKI admitted that the construction company had the ability to pay the withheld taxes over the years and in fact had paid salaries totaling approximately $3.9 million to BIELASKI and her husband from 1998 to 2007. Addressing the court BIELASKI said, “I should have made sure the employment taxes were paid... I know I need to be accountable.... I regret the impact it has had on my sons.”
Assistant United States Attorney Mark Parrent told the court that BIELASKI was enjoying an affluent lifestyle funded in large part by the withheld taxes she failed to forward to the IRS. He said a prison sentence was necessary to promote respect for the tax laws and to provide deterrence to those who might be tempted to take advantage of our tax system’s significant reliance on taxpayers to monitor their own compliance with the tax laws.
Judge Martinez said the criminal conduct went on for a decade, and continued even after BIELASKI was sent a notice by the IRS. “In every other aspect of her life she is a good person... a good solid citizen,” the Judge said. “But most of her lifestyle was paid for by this criminal activity.”
Employers generally are required to withhold income taxes, Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes from their employees’ wages. They also are required to periodically forward the withheld taxes to the IRS along with reports describing the wages paid and taxes withheld.
The case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS CI) and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark Parrent.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.