A former Long Beach-based IRS agent who tried to collect a $5,000 bribe from a taxpayer was sentenced Monday to a year of supervised release, to include six months of home detention.
Felecia Edna Taylor, 51, was ordered to pay restitution of $500 to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and participate in mental health treatment during the period of supervision. U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. also sentenced Taylor to one previously served day in custody.
Taylor’s attorney, Amy M. Karlin, told the judge that her client had a check ready to pay the restitution.
The resident of the Florence neighborhood in South Los Angeles pleaded guilty last August to a one-count federal criminal complaint charging her with solicitation and receipt of a bribe by a public official.
After she was caught, the IRS conducted an “exhaustive” investigation and found no evidence of other bribes that Taylor accepted during her career with the agency, according to papers filed in Los Angeles federal court.
Taylor, who had worked for the IRS for almost 30 years when she was fired, was a tax compliance officer, planning and conducting examinations of individual and business taxpayers.
The defendant told the judge that she solicited the bribe due to financial difficulties.
“I was stressed out to the point where I didn’t know what else to do,” Taylor said. “That’s why I did that stupid act.”
Due to her conviction, she lost her retirement benefits, which would have become effective when she turned 55, court documents show.
Last May 1, a taxpayer contacted law enforcement and reported that at a meeting two days earlier, Taylor was “inviting a bribe” in exchange for lowering the amount owed to the IRS to $10,000, according to federal prosecutors.
The taxpayer was supposed to pay the bribe to Taylor six days later at her office. Instead, the taxpayer met with law enforcement and was wired for sound and given $5,000 in cash to hand to Taylor.
According to a recording of that meeting, Taylor provided adjusted tax records to show a reduction of the taxpayer’s liability to $10,616 as agreed. In response, the taxpayer handed Taylor an envelope containing $5,000 in cash.
Taylor took the envelope in one hand, mouthed the word, “Five?” and placed five fingers in the air to non-verbally confirm the amount the taxpayer had just given her, court papers state.
When the taxpayer replied, “Yes, what we agreed on, yep it’s all there,” Taylor placed the envelope on her desk and stated, “We are all done,” according to an affidavit in the case.
At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, Hatter wished Taylor luck.
“Don’t break the law again,” the judge said from the bench. “I don’t think you will.”
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