Former IRS Revenue Agent Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Accepting Bribe
Solicited Payment from Marijuana “Dispensary” after Favorable Audit
A former Internal Revenue Service Revenue Agent was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release for accepting a $20,000 bribe, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. PAUL G. HURLEY, 43, of Seattle, was convicted in February 2016 following a three day trial. At sentencing U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said that in 35 years on the bench, this was his first bribery case. He called HURLEY’s crime, “a tremendous breach of public trust.”
“The American public entrusts public officials to carry out their duties in an honorable way. Revenue agents, such as this defendant, conduct taxpayer audits, demand records, conduct interviews, and have the power to assess additional federal taxes,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “When that power is used to line the pockets of those public officials it is a breach of trust of the highest order.”
According to testimony at trial and records filed in the case, in the summer of 2015 HURLEY was randomly assigned to audit the corporate taxes of Have a Heart Compassion Care, Inc., a medical marijuana dispensary. In a meeting at one of the dispensary locations, HURLEY presented the owner of the dispensary with the findings of the audit. HURLEY indicated to the business owner that he had ‘saved the owner millions’ during the audit and that he lived paycheck to paycheck. HURLEY asked the business owner for $20,000. The business owner and his attorney reported the bribe request to the FBI. Working with law enforcement, the business owner met twice with HURLEY and in recorded conversations delivered cash in marked bills.
At the trial, prosecutors noted that HURLEY had written on the audit paperwork that the business owner had no money to pay on his tax bill following the audit, even as HURLEY sought $20,000 to personally benefit from his work as a public employee.
HURLEY had been a revenue agent with the IRS since 2009 and resigned from the service after the conduct was discovered.
The case was investigated by the FBI and by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (“TIGTA”).
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Justin W. Arnold and Francis Franze-Nakamura.