Patrice Tierney, the wife of Rep. John F. Tierney, D-Mass., has pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns in connection with an offshore Internet gambling scheme.

Patrice Tierney, 59, of Salem, Mass., was charged with assisting her brother’s preparation of false federal tax returns which concealed, among other things, her brother’s operation of an illegal gambling business.

According to the four-count information filed by prosecutors, Tierney is the sister of Robert Eremian, who was recently charged, along with Tierney’s other brother Daniel Eremian, with racketeering, money laundering, operating an illegal gambling business, use of wire communication facilities to transmit wagering information, interstate travel in aid of racketeering, false tax returns, witness tampering, and acceptance of financial instruments for unlawful Internet gambling.

Also charged in that racketeering indictment were co-defendants Richard Sullivan of St. John’s, Antigua and Marblehead and Todd Lyons of Beverly. Her brother Robert Eremian and Sullivan are currently federal fugitives.

John Tierney said he and his wife had been misled and betrayed by her brother.

“Eight years ago, my wife Patrice, the Federal Court and Office of Probation collectively believed in the statements of her brother, Robert Eremian, when he sought and received permission to travel abroad to pursue a career in selling or licensing software to legal Internet gaming businesses,” he said in a statement, according to the Salem Gazette. “While Patrice disagreed with his decision to leave his family behind to move abroad, at the request of her brother, Patrice agreed to care for their ailing mother and serve as a de facto second mother to his three teenage children. Patrice agreed to do so out of care for her family, trust in her brother and belief that what he had at that time told the requisite authorities of his proposed venture was accurate.”

Charges against Robert Eremian alleged that he moved the headquarters for his illegal gambling business from Massachusetts to Antigua during the late 1990's where he operated Sports Offshore, an internet site and toll free telephone line, to service his U.S. customers. Eremian allegedly employed dozens of “agents” in the United States who recruited customers and collected gambling debts, forwarding the proceeds to Eremian in Antigua.

The indictment against Robert Eremian also alleges that he engaged in a number of money laundering schemes to disguise the fact that the money coming from the United States was for the payment of gambling debts owed to Sports Offshore and that he created numerous fictitious entities to launder the proceeds of his illegal gambling activities, including Antiguan shell companies named Benevolence Funding, Ltd. and DeSoto, Ltd. The Indictment further alleges that Eremian funneled millions of dollars that constituted illegal gambling proceeds to family members in the United States.

The information unsealed Tuesday alleges that Tierney managed Robert Eremian’s U.S.-based finances through a Bank of America bank account in the District of Massachusetts that was funded by Robert Eremian with the proceeds of illegal gambling activities. Tierney maintained detailed records of financial transactions involving this account which were used to prepare Robert Eremian’s tax returns. Tierney provided information to Eremian’s tax preparer that mischaracterized Eremian’s income as commissions and Eremian’s employment as a computer consultant.

The information stated, “The defendant Patrice Tierney engaged in a conscious course of deliberate ignorance regarding the true nature of Eremian’s income and Eremian’s ownership of Sports Offshore.”

If convicted, Patrice Tierney faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison to be followed by one year of supervised release, and a fine of up to $100,000 on each of the false tax return counts.

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