Absolutely stunning and wonderful news out of Florida in a highly-publicized offshore account case. From the Palm Beach Daily News:
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp sentenced Mary Estelle Curran of Palm Beach to one year probation Thursday on tax charges, before revoking the sentence five seconds later and sending her out of the courtroom a free woman.
Ryskamp chastised the government for prosecuting the 79-year-old woman when 38,000 other people in the same situation were given immunity.
The woman had inherited Swiss bank accounts from her wealthy husband. Her lawyer had tried to get her into the offshore disclosure program, but the IRS turned her down because her name was on a list provided by Swiss bank UBS. She pleaded guilty to two false return charges. The judge blasted the government for bringing criminal charges:
Based on these facts, did it ever occur to the government to dismiss these charges,” Ryskamp said. “Instead, the government decided it had to make a felon out of this woman?”
That’s been the IRS approach to offshore accounts all along. The IRS has done a terrible job distinguishing the bad guys from inadvertent violators, hitting people who have come forward with accidental violations with ridiculous penalties, rather than welcoming them into compliance — while often letting bigger fish swim away. But the government had no apologies to offer:
Mark Daly, from the Department of Justice Tax Division, told Ryskamp that Curran’s husband, Mortimer, was a “very wealthy man” and shouldn’t have turned to a foreign national for an interpretation of U.S. Law.”
Mortimer is beyond the prosecutors’ reach, so burn the widow! In addition to setting her free, the judge urged her to apply for a presidential pardon, which he promised to endorse.
Bloomberg News, Widow Gets Less Than Minute of Probation in U.S. Tax Case