A former Internal Revenue Service agent has been convicted in a federal court in Seattle for receiving a bribe from a marijuana dispensary owner.
Paul G. Hurley, 43, of Seattle, was convicted on two felony counts last Friday following a two-day trial (see Former IRS Agent to Be Tried for Soliciting Bribe from Marijuana Business Owner). The jury deliberated for three days before reaching its verdict. U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour has scheduled sentencing for Hurley for May 13, 2016. The charge of receiving a bribe by a public official is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to the evidence and testimony presented at the trial, Hurley was randomly assigned last summer to audit the corporate taxes of Have a Heart Compassion Care, Inc., a medical marijuana dispensary. Hurley worked as a revenue agent with the IRS since 2009. During a meeting at one of the dispensary’s locations, he presented the business owner, Ryan Kunkel, with the findings of an IRS audit. Hurley indicated that he had “saved the owner millions” during the audit and that he lived paycheck to paycheck.
In return, Hurley asked Kunkel for $20,000. Kunkel and his attorney reported the bribe request to the FBI.
Working with law enforcement, Kunkel met twice with Hurley, recording their conversations and delivering the cash to him in marked bills. Some of this cash was seized from Hurley at the time of his arrest following his second meeting with Kunkel.
During the trial, prosecutors pointed out that Hurley had written on the audit paperwork that Kunkel had no money to pay on his tax bill following the audit, even as Hurley sought $20,000 to personally benefit from his work as a public employee.
“This is a case about what he didn’t do,” prosecutors told the jury, noting that Hurley failed to fulfill his duties as a revenue agent during the audit.
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