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Press Release

Spokane Woman Sentenced to a Year in Federal for Failing to File Federal Income Tax Returns

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington
Defendant formerly worked as a Claims Liability Technician at Spokane County Department of Risk Management

Spokane, Washington – Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Rhonda Sue Ackerman, age 54 of Spokane, Washington, was sentenced after having pleaded guilty to two counts of willfully failing to file her 2015 and 2016 federal income tax returns.  Senior United States District Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson sentenced Ackerman to a 12-month term of imprisonment, to be followed by a one-year term of court supervision after she is released from federal prison.  Senior Judge Peterson ordered Ackerman’s federal prison term to run consecutive to the to the twelve-month prison term imposed by the Spokane County Superior Court on January 4, 2023, following her first-degree theft conviction in State of Washington v. Rhonda Sue Ackerman (Case No. 21110632-32) for stealing $1,378,541 in public funds between 2007 and 2016, while she worked at Spokane County Department of Risk Management (“SCDRM”).  Senior Judge Peterson also ordered Ackerman to pay the IRS $96,363 in restitution. 

According to court documents, Ackerman abused her position as a liability claims technician at SCDRM.  Between 2014 and 2016, she embezzled $440,315.25 and failed to file federal income tax returns reporting her income. Ackerman used her access to risk management software to enrich herself by creating bogus “vendor” and vendor IDs” for nominees (fake third-party claimants). Shen then created and submitted bogus claims vouchers to Spokane County, delivering the bogus vouchers to the auditor’s office for payment, picking up the vouchers and contacting the nominees to cash the checks for her at local banks.  As part of the scheme, Ackerman would pay each nominee between $100 and $600 for cashing the checks and keeping the remaining funds for her own personal use and benefit.  While Ackerman deposited some of the ill-gotten proceeds into her bank account, a large portion of the cash Ackerman received was spent gambling. At one local casino, Ackerman withdrew approximately $117,000.

“Ackerman willfully disregarded the tax laws and embezzled county funds for her own personal gain. Our tax system depends on the voluntary compliance of honest taxpayers.  People who intentionally fail to file tax returns are subject to prosecution.  The sentence imposed in this case sends a strong message:  A term of imprisonment is a reality for willfully failing to file federal income tax returns,” said U.S. Attorney Waldref. 

“Gamblers often tell themselves, ‘It’s only a problem if I’m losing.’ Today’s sentence is confirmation that Ms. Ackerman has indeed lost,” said Special Agent in Charge Adam Jobes, IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS:CI), Seattle Field Office. “Ms. Ackerman embezzled hard-earned taxpayer funds and gambled It away. Not satisfied with that, she chose to deliberately disregard tax laws in order to try to evade paying her fair share. This is not acceptable, and IRS:CI will continue to investigate and bring these criminals to justice.”

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, with the assistance of the Spokane Police Department.  This case is being prosecuted by George J.C. Jacobs, III, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.



Richard Barker 
Assistant United States Attorney and Public Affairs Officer
509-835-6311 or

Updated May 25, 2023

Financial Fraud