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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Congressional Staffer Charged with Failing to File Tax Returns for 5 Years

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Isaac Lanier Avant, of Arlington, who is currently employed as a staffer by the U.S. House of Representatives, has been charged with five counts of willfully failing to file a tax return.

According to the criminal information and affidavit, Avant has been employed as a staff member of the U.S. House of Representatives since approximately 2002.  For tax years 2009 through 2013, Avant earned annual wages of over $170,000, but did not timely file a personal income tax return for any of those years.  In May 2005, Avant filed a form with his employer that falsely claimed he was exempt from federal income taxes.  Avant did not have any federal tax withheld from his paycheck until the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mandated that his employer begin withholding in January 2013. 

Avant faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison if convicted. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Caroline D. Ciraolo, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, made the announcement.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Hanly and Assistant Chief Todd Ellinwood of the Tax Division.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:16-mj-385.

A criminal information contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

Updated August 23, 2016