Why You Should Not Forge Congressional Letterhead In An IRS Dispute

February 28, 2013

Logo of the Internal Revenue Service

Logo of the Internal Revenue Service (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Susan Tomsha-Miguel, 52, Atwater,CA, ran a tax consulting and bookkeeping business. Given that the two certainties in life are death and taxes, Tomsha-Miguel seems to have entered a business that would give her a fairly stable income.  Unfortunately, you know how it goes, some folks are just never quite satisfied.

Enter a client with an Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") tax dispute, who hired Tomsha-Miguel to resolve the problem.

So, wattya gonna do when you're gettin' paid to make an IRS dispute go away?  Why, you did what many red-blooded Americans do - you find yourself a politician.

Can You Help?

Apparently, Tomsha-Miguel contacted the office ofCalifornia's 18th Congressional District Representative, Dennis A. Cardoza.  Moreover, in keeping with the role of dedicated public servants, the Congressman's office apparently agreed to help with the IRS dispute and sent to Tomsha-Miguel some written material, including what has been described as a form printed under Cardoza's official Congressional letterhead. No - not exactly the kind of active, robust involvement that a taxpayer might expect from a politico but, hey, it is what it is: You get a bunch of generic crap emblazoned with some fancy-schmanzy official logo and letterhead.

The Case of The Dubious Letter

At this point, matters go from the sublime to the ridiculous. Tomsha-Miguel sends her client a letter - purporting to demonstrate that Representative Cardoza's office had sort of twisted an IRS official arm to get the dispute fixed.  Ah but sometimes looks can be deceiving!

For starters, the first thing that I should stress is that Tomsha-Miguel sent to her client a letter thatlooked as if it were written under Representative Cardoza's official letterhead and signed by his aide.  If you read that correspondence, it stated that as a result of Tomsha-Miguel's efforts on behalf of her client, the aide had, in fact, contacted an IRS official, who had agreed to make the resolution of the tax dispute his "number one priority."  If you read a bit further, you would learn that not only was this IRS hot shot going to prioritize the dispute but he was presently in "Washington, D.C. for an emergency strategy meeting with the U.S. Treasury Secretary and others for a planning session in the event a budget does not get passed by both the House and Senate."

Feds Step In

On May 24, 2011, Tomsha-Miguel was charged in a one-count Indictment filed in the Eastern District of California for impersonation of an officer or an employee of the United States.  Turns out that purported aide to Representative Cardoza was fabricated - no such person existed - and Tomsha-Miguel had forged the congressman's letterhead by copying and pasting it onto a blank sheet of paper. In the end, we got us a fairly simple case of Tomsha-Miguel writing a phony-baloney letter from a make-believe congressional aide to herself, and then sending this fantasy correspondence to her unsuspecting client in a oddball attempt to convince him that she had resolved the IRS problem. NOTE: There were no allegations whatsoever of any misconduct against Representative Cardoza or any member of his staff.

Tomsha-Miguel faced a maximum sentence of three years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and supervised release. On February 26, 2013, a federal jury convicted her.

One last thing, sort of file this under the addition of insult to injury, the jury was reportedly out for a grand total of 15 minutes!