Maryland Chiropractor Convicted of Filing Fraudulent Tax Returns and Obstructing the IRS
Filed Tax Returns for Seven Years Reporting $0 in Business Income
A jury convicted a Salisbury, Maryland, chiropractor yesterday of filing fraudulent income tax returns and attempting to obstruct the internal revenue laws, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen M. Schenning for the District of Maryland.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Dr. Warren Gregory Belcher, 59, operated a chiropractic business for nearly 20 years. During that time, he received income for chiropractic services from insurance companies, patients and other third parties, including another chiropractor in Baltimore. From 2009 through 2015, Belcher filed individual income tax returns that did not report that he operated a chiropractic business and fraudulently claimed that he had earned no business income, when, in fact, the evidence at trial established that he received total payments of more than $350,000 during that time period.
The evidence introduced at trial included dozens of letters that Belcher sent to insurance companies and other third parties in which he threatened that the companies could be subject to civil and criminal penalties for reporting payments made to him for his services to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on a Form 1099-MISC. Belcher also made threatening statements to an accountant to prevent the accountant from reporting his income to the government. The evidence showed that Belcher himself submitted fraudulent Forms 1099-MISC to the IRS falsely representing that companies that had reported his income to the IRS had not actually paid him income.
For the years 2009 and 2011, the IRS mailed Belcher notices informing him that his returns underreported his income. The IRS also assessed additional taxes and penalties against Belcher for his fraudulent returns, including a $5,000 penalty for filing a frivolous tax return. The evidence established that Belcher responded to these IRS notices by sending letters to the IRS asserting that the IRS was violating the law by assessing and collecting his taxes.
At trial, Belcher testified that he filed these “zero returns” based on a theory he read in a book called Cracking the Code. Belcher admitted that he knew the author of the book, Peter Hendrickson, and the author’s wife, Doreen Hendrickson, had both convicted of tax crimes.
U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett set sentencing for March 9, 2018. Belcher faces a statutory maximum sentence of three years in prison on each count, as well as a term of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg and Acting U.S. Attorney Schenning commended special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Trial Attorney Melissa S. Siskind of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean R. Delaney of the District of Maryland, who are prosecuting the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division’s enforcement efforts can be found on the division’s website.