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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 19, 2014

Lynnwood Accountant Sentenced to Prison for Tax Evasion and Wire Fraud

Over Ten Years Stole Relative’s Tax Payments Totaling More Than $1 Million

            A long-time Lynnwood accounting and tax professional was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 41 months in prison for wire fraud and tax evasion, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. BRUCE BERGMAN, 59, of Kirkland, Washington, victimized relatives who believed he was making their tax payments from money they sent to his trust account.  Instead, between 2002 and 2011, BERGMAN kept their money and never paid the taxes due, leaving the couple with a tax bill of more than one million dollars.  At sentencing U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones said it was a “devastating crime… a wrecking ball in the lives of so many people who were affected.”

            According to records filed in the case, in 2000 BERGMAN started his own accounting firm, the Bergman Group.  For the previous nine years BERGMAN had been doing the taxes of a close family member and her husband.  In 2002 he led the couple to believe that he was still completing their taxes and making payments from the funds they sent to him.  In fact he was keeping their money and never filing their tax returns or their payments.  In order to keep the scheme going, BERGMAN filled out various documents including change of address forms so that no notices from the IRS about failure to pay taxes would reach the couple. The scheme was discovered when the relatives consulted a different accountant who discovered no taxes had been paid on behalf of the couple.

            “It is bad enough that Bruce Bergman stole from the IRS, but it is unconscionable that he would steal from his own family,” said Special Agent in Charge Teri Alexander of IRS Criminal Investigation.  “The sentence today highlights the resolve of the Department of Justice and the IRS to protect the integrity of the tax system and holds Bergman accountable for his duties as a professional accountant.”

            In their sentencing recommendation prosecutors noted that BERGMAN needs drug treatment, as some of the money he stole from his relatives went to support a drug habit that cost him as much as $400 a day.

            The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Diggs.

Updated March 20, 2015