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Judge Sentences Broker Susan Patrick To 15 Months In Prison For Tax Avoidance. | Story

A federal judge in Baltimore has sentenced longtime media broker Susan Patrick to 15 months in prison for filing false tax returns. U.S. District Judge George Russell also ordered Patrick to serve one year of supervised release and to pay more than $3.8 million in restitution.

Patrick had sought to avoid prison time. But the judge sided with the Justice Department that asked the court for not only time behind bars but also the dollar amount it says the government lost in taxes, plus interest, during a four-year period between 2012 and 2015.

The DOJ had sought two years in prison. Federal law for filing a false tax return carries a maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment, one year of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

“To be clear: this is not a case where a misguided individual buried their head in the sand and hoped the IRS wouldn’t notice some missing taxes. This is a case of flagrant dishonesty, of shameless disregard for the law,” the DOJ said in an earlier sentencing memo presented to the court.

Patrick co-owned the media brokerage firm Patrick Communications with her husband, Larry, and hired an accounting firm to prepare business and personal tax returns for 2012 through 2014. Despite receiving what prosecutors say were completed and accurate tax returns from the accounting firm, Patrick did not file them with the IRS. After the IRS contacted Patrick and requested that she file the unfiled returns, prosecutors say Patrick lied to the IRS, claiming that her accounting firm had timely filed the returns and that she would provide copies of those returns.

But prosecutors say rather than handing over copies of the accurate returns that had been prepared, Patrick doctored the business returns, removing $10 million in gross receipts received by the brokerage firm, and altered the personal returns by removing over $9.5 million in related income that she and her husband had earned from 2012 through 2014. Prosecutors say Patrick also falsely backdated her signature on each tax return to make it appear as if the returns had been timely signed and mailed these false documents to the IRS, hoping to evade paying the full amount of taxes she owed.

In addition, the government says Patrick did not file business and individual returns for 2015 on time, which she had also hired the accounting firm to prepare, nor did she pay the tax due for the individual return. In total, prosecutors say Patrick sought to avoid more than $2.5 million in taxes.

Susan Patrick along with her husband, Larry Patrick, also own Legend Communications which owns 24 radio stations in Wyoming. Felony convictions in the past have put station licenses at risk, but Larry Patrick has said that they plan to transfer his wife’s 50% holdings in Legend into a trust while the process moves forward. The couple, who have owned stations in Wyoming since 1989, said in September that they are currently talking with their attorneys and a potential trustee.

Susan Patrick apologized to employees at Legend Communications, in a statement released in September, noting the broadcast company is unrelated to the tax issue.

“This is a tax obligation based on a very serious lapse of judgement a decade ago,” she said. “I am fully ready to be held accountable and to do whatever I can and need to do to make up for my decisions of the past.”

Since the tax fraud case came to light in the fall, Patrick Communications has dissolved, and Larry Patrick has relaunched the Wyoming-based brokerage Patrick Media.

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