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Kirkland man pleads not guilty to defrauding brother-in-law in federal tax scheme
A Kirkland man pleaded not guilty to one count of wire fraud and five counts of tax evasion in the U.S. District Court in Seattle on Tuesday.
A federal grand jury contends Kirkland resident Bruce Edwards Bergman, 58, stole a total of approximately $1.2 million from his brother-in-law as he allegedly posed as his accountant for more than 10 years.
Bergman started his own accounting firm in Lynnwood called The Bergman Group after leaving an Edmond’s CPA firm as a tax accountant.
Charging documents state Bergman’s brother-in-law hired him in 1990 to prepare and file federal income tax returns for his brother-in-law’s three businesses in the medical field.
Bergman filed his brother-in-law’s tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service for 10 years until one day in 2001 when he knowingly devised a scheme to defraud his brother-in-law and the IRS by fraudulently concealing facts and making false promises so he could pocket the money, according to the charges.
After receiving wired tax payments every month from his brother-in-law to be filed, Bergman would use the funds to buy personal items, charging documents state.
One particular wire transfer shows that on Dec. 1, 2010 Bergman’s brother-in-law wired $11,480 from High Country Bank in Colorado to The Bergman Group PS Trust Account of JP Morgan Chase.
To ward off suspicion, Bergman would provide copies of federal tax returns to his brother-in-law but would simply not file them, the documents continue.
Bergman filed a change of address to the IRS in 2001 and 2007 so that his brother-in-law’s home address was changed to Bergman’s business address. This prevented IRS notices of non-payment from getting to Bergman’s brother-in-law.
Court documents show Bergman’s sister and brother-in-law owed around $60,000 to $64,000 in taxes every year from 2006 until 2010, when they owed $120,000 in taxes.
If Bergman is convicted on the counts before him, he will be forced to forfeit all property, real or personal, that was purchased from the proceeds, including a sum of money comparable to which he stole.
If any property or proceeds cannot be located, has been deposited to a third person, has been placed out of the country or substantially has diminished in value, or has been commingled with other property, Bergman is to forfeit other property of the same value, according to the indictment.
The Bergman Group is no longer in business, according to the Better Business Bureau.