Jun 14th 2010
A Twin Cities agent of the Internal Revenue Service, who had filed for bankruptcy approximately two weeks earlier, allegedly offered two businessmen a deal: I’ll cut your tax liability by more than 80 percent if you pay me $9,700.
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According to the Pioneer Press of St. Paul, the two businessmen were suspicious of the agent, and secretly recorded the conversation they had with Roger Anthony Coombs. They took the tape to the FBI. The criminal complaint, unsealed June 3 at Coombs’s initial appearance in federal court, accuses Coombs of seeking a bribe.
Coombs, 40, claimed debts of $607,000 and only $417 in cash in an April 21 bankruptcy filing, the newspaper reported. Among his debts were mortgages and second mortgages, nine student loans, and overdue child support.
An FBI affidavit states that the two men, partners in a small business, met Coombs on May 6, after one of them had received a letter from Coombs saying that his tax return had been selected for an audit. The men are identified as “cooperating witness #1 and cooperating witness #2.”
"During the meeting and without the accountant present, defendant Coombs told CW1 and CW2 that the business owed the IRS between $30,000 and $35,000, and eventually asked how much money CW1 and CW2 could afford to pay," FBI Special Agent Stephen Vitale wrote.
The second man told Coombs "they could probably come up with $20,000 if they had to," Vitale wrote.
"Defendant Coombs then told CW1 and CW2 that they were nice young guys, maybe he could help them out, and they should meet somewhere away from the accountant's office and without the accountant to further discuss the matter," the affidavit said.
At that point, the second man decided to secretly record the May 8 meeting, held in a Minneapolis restaurant. Coombs allegedly told them that they owed $60,000 to the IRS – that he had “a proposal” that would make the situation “manageable” and “make it go away.” The affidavit said that Coombs proposed that they pay him $9,700 and he would arrange for the IRS to accept $11,000. "During the conversation, defendant Coombs states, 'We're not recording nothing here, right?'"
On May 19, one of the men met Coombs and paid him $3,000 in marked money provided by the FBI and the Department of the Treasury, reported NBC affiliate KARE News of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Agents filmed and recorded the encounter. They arranged a second meeting on June 2, when agents from the FBI and the Treasury arrested Coombs
Coombs is charged with one count of corruptly soliciting and agreeing to receive a bribe, reported WCCO News, a CBS affiliate in the Twin Cities. A conviction carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.