On June 22 of this year former Tax Court Judge Diane Kroupa, age 61, was sentenced to 34 months in prison. Her husband, Republican lobbyist Robert Fackler, age 63, was sentenced to 24 months. Each of them was ordered to repay the government restitution of over $400,000.
Here’s what we now know from their own words.
They lied to the IRS during an audit and intentionally deducted the same business expenses more than once. Many of those so called business expenses, to the tune of close to a million dollars, were not really business expenses at all, unless Pilate lessons, wine club fees, and music lessons are business and not personal.
We know they both used politically entrenched law firms.
We know that of all the charges they were allowed to plead to only one, and the others were dismissed.
And we know they are both going to jail.
We also know that the Special Agent who prosecuted her, Hubbard Burgess doesn’t seem to know or understand the law very well.
Agent Hubbard Burgess was quoted as saying, “Diane Kroupa…committed the same crimes as those who appeared before her in court over the past decade.” Actually, that sentence violates the spirit of the Constitution. Apparently, he forgot that we presume the innocence of all citizens. Now once they pled guilty, as Judge Kroupa did, the presumption no longer applies. However, it does apply to the hundreds of tax payers who appeared before Judge Kroupa, nearly all of whom were never even accused of criminal conduct. You end up in a criminal case, in a Federal District Court, because the Government institutes a criminal case, gets an indictment against you, and forces you to either plead guilty, as Judge Kroupa did or fight. A citizen does not choose whether to be there or not. You end up in Judge Kroupa’s court room, tax court, by choosing to be there, by filing a petition in the court. You go there arguing over the amount, if any, you owe the government. No one goes to prison after civil tax court.
Judge Kroupa presided over the Tax Court, where none of her “victims”, or citizens in front of her, were contesting anything except the amount of taxes or whether or not they owed taxes. They were not being prosecuted as criminals. Their actions were civil in nature: mistakes on returns, disagreements on deductions.
The Criminal Court, the United States Federal District Court, where Kroupa was convicted by her own confession, is where citizens accused of intentionally violating tax laws are tried and face prison. No one in Judge Kroupa’s Tax courtroom faced anything but paying money and fines – they were not being accused of any crimes. If they were accused of criminal conduct, then they would end up in a Federal District Court, not Judge Kroupa’s courtroom.
So Agent Burgess thinks the presumably innocent people in Judge Kroupa’s court, not even accused of criminal wrongdoing, have “committed the same crimes” as Judge Kroupa. It makes you not want to invite a special agent over for dinner, particularly if he thinks that everyone with a disagreement about the tax law is a criminal.
But Judge Kroupa didn’t have any disagreements. She didn’t make any mistakes on her returns. She knew what the law was and figured she was smart enough to break it. Most government officials who break tax laws, like IRS agents who don’t pay their own taxes, don’t go to prison. The statistics just worked against her. And her conduct was egregious. While she was handing out fines and discipline, she was breaking the law intentionally, far worse than the honest citizens appearing before her.
Special Agent Hubbard Burgess will likely continue to believe that everyone in Tax court is a criminal, just waiting to get caught and be forced to go into the Federal Criminal Court.
Our firm defends citizens against abuses from the likes of Kroupa and Burgess.