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Former tax judge could go to prison thanks to Spiro Agnew

A former federal Tax Court judge and her husband face serious criminal charges. A federal indictment alleges that the couple committed fraud by concealing income in order to avoid paying their taxes.

While this case is unfolding in a state other than California, it could happen here. As a result, we think that readers will find the information informative. If nothing else, it should serve to reinforce for anyone who has received word they are facing an audit by the Internal Revenue Service that they need to take swift action to protect themselves.

The allegation is that the now-retired judge and her husband actively conspired to evade taxes between 2004 and 2012. During this period, the judge was on the bench in Minnesota and her husband was a self-employed lobbying consultant.

According to court documents, the couple reported personal expenses as business expenses, understating their income by about $1 million. Authorities say they sought to avoid paying at least $400,000 owed in income tax.

What is apparent from the government's news release is that the couple likely knew well ahead of time what was coming. Indeed, some speculate that the judge retired from her post early because of the investigations undertaken by the IRS and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Some further speculate that the couple cannot expect much in the way of leniency, even if they agree to plead guilty to the charges, thanks to Spiro Agnew.

For those who don't recall, Agnew was vice president of the United States in 1973 when he pleaded no contest to a single tax evasion charge. By virtue of the plea deal he suffered public humiliation. He also resigned, received a sentence of three year's probation and paid a $10,000 fine.

What suffered more was Justice Department clout. Because Agnew got off so easily, juries became disinclined to get too tough on others charged with tax crimes. As a result, no contest plea deals on felony tax charges are no longer accepted by the DOJ. And the more prominent the offender, the more likely it is that they will face a more severe sentence.

In this case, one tax expert predicts the judge will probably face time in prison.

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