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Press Release

Exercise Equipment Inventor Sentenced to Prison for Failing to File Income Tax Returns and Health Care Benefits Fraud

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A Cheyenne, Wyoming, resident, who created exercise equipment, was sentenced to prison today, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Mark A. Klaassen for the District of Wyoming.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kelly H. Rankin sentenced Douglas Brendle to 18 months in prison on two counts of willfully failing to file his income tax returns and one count of making a fraudulent application for health care benefits.

According to court documents, from 2008-2012 Douglas E. Brendle owned and operated Brendle Climbing Systems LLC, which sold exercise equipment. In January 2013, Brendle sold the rights to its exercise equipment to investors. In exchange, he received nearly $1.5 million in payments during the period of 2013-2014. Despite receiving this income, Brendle failed to file individual tax returns or pay income taxes in 2013 or 2014 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Brendle’s conduct caused a tax loss of $404,501.

Additionally, during 2013-2014, Brendle fraudulently received health care benefits for himself and his family from Wyoming Medicaid, a jointly administered federal-state health care program that pays for medical care for eligible low-income individuals and families. In December 2013, Brendle caused a false renewal application to be filed for Wyoming Medicaid claiming his household had no income. During 2013–2014, Wyoming Medicaid paid Brendle $17,173.70 in benefits to which he and his family were not entitled.

In addition to the term of imprisonment, U.S. Magistrate Judge Rankin ordered Brendle to serve one year of supervised release and to pay restitution of $404,501 to the IRS and $17,173.70 to Wyoming Medicaid.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Klaassen commended the work of special agents of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, who developed the case against Brendle, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric J. Heimann and Trial Attorney Eric C. Schmale of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case.

Additional information about the enforcement efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office and the Tax Division may be found on their respective websites.

Updated June 12, 2019

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 19-654