A former IRS compliance officer in Las Vegas has pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe in exchange for preparing a false audit report for a taxpayer.

Fernando Cruz, 43, was assigned last year to audit the individual joint tax return of a Las Vegas couple. At an initial meeting with the couple at his office, Cruz provided his personal cell phone number to the female member of the couple and told her to call him if she ever had tax questions or wanted him to prepare their taxes.

The couple told their accountant about Cruz’s offer, and then reported it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The couple agreed to work with investigators and to have monitored calls and meetings with Cruz.

On June 14, Cruz went to the couple’s home and reviewed the couple’s tax records and told the woman he could “fudge” their tax records so they would have less tax liability. Cruz coached the woman on how to answer questions during an upcoming audit appointment she had with him on June 24, and instructed her to say that she did not have receipts to verify expenses.

Cruz also accepted $500 in cash from the woman and was told that he would receive another $500 if he could make their tax liability go away. On June 24, the woman met with Cruz at his IRS office as planned, and Cruz prepared an IRS income form with the false information she provided. Cruz also mentioned that the woman might assist him in finding an apartment in exchange for his help to the couple on their audit. Both of the meetings were electronically monitored.

Cruz is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 24. He faces up to two years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if convicted. He has been released on a personal recognizance bond.

The case was investigated by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas D. Dickinson.

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