Former United States Tax Court Judge And Husband Sentenced For Multi-Year Tax Fraud Conspiracy
Defendants conspired to defraud the IRS of more than $450,000 in taxes
Acting United States Attorney Gregory G. Brooker today announced the sentencing of a former United States Tax Court judge and her husband for conspiring to defraud the United States. DIANE L. KROUPA, 61, was sentenced to 34 months in prison and ROBERT E. FACKLER, 63, was sentenced to 24 months in prison. Both defendants entered guilty pleas and were sentenced earlier today before Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minn. In addressing KROUPA’S extensive tax fraud committed while a sitting US Tax Court Judge, Judge Wright stated, “When a person in a position of trust violates that trust, the public is a victim,” and further noted that KROUPA’S fraud undermined the trust in the justice system.
“Over a nearly ten-year period, the defendants engaged in a deliberate and brazen tax fraud scheme,” said Acting United States Attorney Gregory Brooker. “Considering Ms. Kroupa’s position of public trust as a US Tax Court Judge, her crime is particularly egregious. Ms. Kroupa used her knowledge of the tax laws to further their fraud scheme, conceal their criminal conduct and maintain their acquisitive lifestyle. The sentences handed down today show that no one is above the law.”
“Diane Kroupa held a position of public trust as a federal tax court judge and made rulings based on the very tax laws she broke. She broke that trust when she thought she was above the law and committed the same crimes as those who appeared before her in court over the past decade,” said Hubbard Burgess, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation. “Everyone in society must play by the same rules and IRS-CI will protect the integrity of the tax system by ensuring everyone pays their fair share, including federal officials.”
“The Postal Inspection Service will aggressively investigate all individuals, regardless of your job title, who chose to commit fraud. Today’s sentencing of Ms. Kroupa, a former U.S. Tax Court Judge, should send a clear message to those individuals contemplating committing fraud by using the US Mails. Don’t do it,” said Craig Goldberg, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Denver Division which covers the Twin Cities.
According to the plea agreement and documents filed in court, KROUPA was a former judge who was appointed to the United States Tax Court on June 13, 2003 for a term of 15 years. During the same period, KROUPA was married to FACKLER, a self-employed lobbyist and political consultant who owned and operated a business known as Grassroots Consulting. From 2004 to 2013, KROUPA and FACKLER owned a home in Plymouth, Minnesota. From 2007 to 2013, they also leased a second residence in Easton, Maryland, where KROUPA lived while fulfilling her duties as a Tax Court Judge in Washington DC.
According to the plea agreement and documents filed in court, between 2002 and 2012, KROUPA and FACKLER conspired to obstruct the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from accurately determining their joint income taxes. As part of the conspiracy, KROUPA and FACKLER worked together each year to compile numerous personal expenses for inclusion as supposed “business expenses” for Grassroots Consulting in their joint tax return. Those expenses included: rent and utilities for the Maryland home; utilities, upkeep and renovation expenses of the Minnesota home; pilates classes; spa and massage fees; jewelry and personal clothing; wine club fees; Chinese language tutoring; music lessons; personal computers; and expenses for vacations to Alaska, Australia, the Bahamas, China, England, Greece, Hawaii, Mexico and Thailand. In total, from 2004 through 2010, the defendants fraudulently deducted at least $500,000 of personal expenses as purported Schedule C business expenses. At times, KROUPA prepared and provided to FACKLER summaries of personal expenses falsely described according to business expense categories. On other occasions, KROUPA herself compiled and provided to their tax preparer the fraudulent personal expenses.
According to the plea agreement and documents filed in court, as part of the conspiracy, FACKLER also caused Grassroots Consulting business receipts to be understated by approximately $450,000 by fraudulently deducting purported business expenses which had previously been reimbursed. As a result, the defendants caused the amount of adjusted gross income, taxable income, and total tax shown on their income tax returns to be falsely understated.
According to the plea agreement and documents filed in court, KROUPA and FACKLER made a series of other false claims on their tax returns, including failing to report approximately $44,520 that she received from a 2010 land sale in South Dakota. The defendants also falsely claimed financial insolvency to avoid paying tax on $33,031 on cancellation of indebtedness income.
According to the plea agreement and documents filed in court, KROUPA and FACKLER purposely concealed documents from their tax preparer and an IRS Tax Compliance Officer during an audit for their 2004 and 2005 tax returns. During a second audit in 2012, KROUPA and FACKLER caused false and misleading documents to be delivered to an IRS employee in order to convince the IRS employee that certain personal expenses were actually business expenses of Grassroots Consulting. After the IRS requested documents pertaining to their tax returns, KROUPA and FACKLER removed certain items from their personal tax files before giving them to their tax preparer because the documents could reveal they had illegally deducted numerous personal expenses. During the audit, KROUPA also falsely denied receiving money from the 2010 land sale. Later, when they learned the 2012 audit might progress into a criminal investigation, KROUPA instructed FACKLER to lie to the IRS about her involvement in preparing the portion of their tax returns related to Grassroots Consulting.
According to the plea agreement and documents filed in court, between 2004 and 2010, KROUPA and FACKLER purposely understated their taxable income by approximately $1,000,000 and purposely understated the amount of tax they owed by at least $450,000.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Langner and Timothy Rank prosecuted the case.
DIANE L. KROUPA, 61
- Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, 1 count
34 months in prison
Three years of supervised release
$457,104 joint restitution
ROBERT E. FACKLER, 63
Obstruction of an IRS audit, 1 count
24 months in prison
One year of supervised release
$457,104 joint restitution
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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600