The owner of several Liberty Tax Service franchises has been arrested after he was caught by police in the act of trying to drown his baby in a sink after brutally assaulting his wife.
Bryan Patrice, 38, was arrested Tuesday evening when police responded to an emergency call at his West Palm Beach, Fla., apartment. According to various news reports, including the West Palm Beach Post, they heard loud banging and yelling behind the bathroom door. They ordered Patrice to open the door, and when he did not, they forced it open. He was reportedly nude and was caught in the act of trying to drown his two-month-old daughter in the bathroom sink.
Patrice reportedly shouted, “I rebuke you in the name of Jehovah!” They needed to subdue him with a stun gun.
His wife Leila told police that he had been calm earlier in the evening, but then had emerged naked from the bathroom shouting, “Jesus” and “Jehovah,” while she was trying to feed the baby. He grabbed his wife by the hair, pulled her into the bathroom, hit her head against the floor, wrung her neck, took the infant from her arms and tried to drown the baby. She fled the apartment and went for assistance.
Patrice’s wife and baby daughter were taken to a hospital in the area, but were later released, with his wife showing injuries to her scalp and other scrapes and bruises.
Patrice is expected to face charges of attempted second-degree murder, battery and resisting an officer. He remains in the hospital, but once he is discharged he is expected to be booked into the local jail and held without bail. He reportedly may have suffered from a case of “excited delirium,” a psychotic episode that can be triggered by drug use or extreme stress.
Patrice owns several Liberty Tax Service franchises and is considered to be an area developer for the tax prep chain. Liberty Tax spokesperson Martha O’Gorman confirmed that Patrice is a franchisee, but added, “There is very little we can say at this time. We have limited information and do not want to interfere in any way with the investigation.”
On Monday, Liberty reported that business has been slower than anticipated so far this tax season. Through February 13, the company and its franchisees served approximately 0.1 percent fewer customers in its offices than for the same period in the 2014 tax season.
“We are disappointed with our results so far this year,” said CEO John Hewitt in a statement. “We continue to believe that the Affordable Care Act and Immigration Reform will provide tailwinds for the industry for the next several years; however, we have seen minimal impact so far this season. We believe we will see more impact in the second half of the season as more ACA filers come in to have their returns prepared.”
Hewitt told Accounting Today in an interview last month that he is anticipating growth this tax season from the Affordable Care Act and the boost in employment from the stronger job market (see Liberty Tax CEO Expects Major Boost This Tax Season from Affordable Care Act). Uncertainty over whether President Obama's executive order on immigration reform will withstand a court challenge may have discouraged some undocumented immigrants from coming forward and getting caught up with their past tax returns. This tax season, Liberty launched a Spanish-language branded tax prep service known as Siempre Tax+.
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