LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Uncle Sam has always taken a dim view of tax cheats, but the government went after a crooked IRS agent with gusto.
An Internal Revenue Service agent was sentenced late on Wednesday to three years in prison for filing false tax returns for himself and unwitting relatives whose tax refunds he then stole, federal prosecutors said on Thursday.
The IRS revenue agent, Albert Bront, 51, formerly of Santa Clarita, California, also was ordered to pay more than $120,000 in restitution to the government.
He pleaded guilty in January to one count of filing a false tax return and two counts of assisting others in doing so, though he admitted to filing a total of 15 fraudulent returns during a period stretching from 2003 through 2007.
Besides claiming bogus deductions for mortgage interest and alimony payments, Bront admitted to stealing large tax refunds he obtained through falsified tax returns he filed on behalf of unknowing relatives, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles said in a statement.
Prosecutors said Bront even continued some of his illegal tax-related activities after he was initially caught.
"IRS revenue agents are bound by an oath and hold a position of trust," said Leslie DeMarco, special agent in charge of the IRS criminal investigations branch in Los Angeles. "Those officials that choose to ... break the law, destroying and abusing public trust, will be held criminally accountable."
(Editing by Greg McCune)
(This article has been modified to correct the restitution figure in the third paragraph)