An Internal Revenue Service agent has been indicted in a federal court for soliciting and accepting a $9,700 bribe from the co-owners of a Minnesota business in exchange for lowering the amount of taxes they owed to the IRS.

Roger Anthony Coombs, 40, of Circle Pines, Minn., was charged earlier this month with one count of soliciting and agreeing to receive a bribe by a public official and two counts of receiving a bribe by a public official (see IRS Agent Charged with Seeking Bribe).

The indictment alleges that on May 8, 2010, Coombs met two owners of a Minnesota business regarding an IRS audit of one of the business owners. At that time, Coombs purportedly said the business owed the IRS approximately $60,000, but that he could make the situation more “manageable.” He then reportedly explained he could arrange for the IRS to accept $11,000 instead of $60,000 if the business owners personally paid him $9,700.

Coombs, who began working with the IRS in June 2009, routinely conducted audits of individuals and entities to determine whether correct reports of tax liabilities had been made to the IRS. On Feb. 4, 2010, one of the two business owners received a letter from Coombs regarding an audit of personal tax filings. On May 6, Coombs met with the owners at the office of their accountant. During that meeting, while the accountant was out of the room, Coombs allegedly suggested that the owners meet with him elsewhere, unaccompanied by the accountant, to address the matter further.

Because of his concerns about Coombs’s alleged proposal, one of the business owners secretly recorded the subsequent meeting, on May 8, during which Coombs reportedly said he would be willing to lie about certain aspects of the audit in exchange for money. Another meeting was then scheduled, when Coombs allegedly was to receive partial payment of the bribe.

Prior to that meeting, however, the business owners reported Coombs’s alleged actions to law enforcement. As a result, the May 19, 2010, meeting between one of the business owners and Coombs was observed by law enforcement agents. The agents reportedly watched as the business owner provided Coombs with $3,000. Afterwards, Coombs allegedly informed the owner that he already had taken care of things at the IRS. The two then arranged for yet another meeting, scheduled for June 2, at which the second and final bribe payment would be made. On June 2, after Coombs received the final bribe payment of $6,700, he was arrested without incident.

If convicted, Coombs faces up to 15 years in prison on each bribery count. The sentence will be determined by a federal district court judge.

This case is the result of an investigation by the FBI and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Perzel.

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