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Spokane CPA Roger Stadtmueller sentenced to prison for tax fraud

Spokane certified public accountant Roger A. Stadtmueller was sentenced to 15 months in prison Tuesday after previously pleading guilty to three counts of tax fraud in July.

Prosecutors in the case had asked for 24 months in prison based on Stadtmueller filing false tax returns for his businesses, Stadtmueller and Associates and Zazz Inc., from 2006 to 2010. During that time he reportedly underestimated his income by roughly $1.8 million from 2006 to 2008.

“His behavior is longstanding,” said prosecutor Lisa Bellamy. “Mr. Stadtmueller’s feeling is that he is entitled to whatever he wants.”

In 2007, Stadtmueller wrote an email, recovered by investigators, that said, “This year I will clear $1,000,000. I have every toy in the box anyone would want.”

“This wasn’t some isolated incident,” Bellamy said. “This was strategic and calculated.”

Prosecutors say that Stadtmueller prepared tax returns to get a home equity line of credit on his $1.2 million home and to purchase an expensive RV that were different than the ones he filed with the IRS.

Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson questioned Stadtmueller’s attorney, Robert Bernhoft, of Austin, Texas, about reports that Stadtmueller has been practicing as a CPA without a license. His license to practice in Texas expired in July; his license in Washington state expired in June.

Bernhoft said that Stadtmueller owns businesses in Phoenix and Texas. “What he was doing was trying to build his business to sell,” he said.

As recently as August, the website for Stadtmueller and Associates in San Antonio, Texas, advertised itself as “certified public accountants.” That has since be changed to “business consultants.” Tax filing services are still listed under offered services.

In August, the Arizona State Board of Accountancy suspended Stadtmueller’s license, stating “he may be continuing to practice public accounting in Arizona using the CPA designation, contrary to public welfare.”

Bernhoft said that Washington and several other states have started investigations related to Stadtmueller’s felony guilty pleas. “He intends to continue to practice as a CPA,” he said.

Bernhoft asked that Stadtmueller be sentenced to six months at a community corrections center and six months home detention. A community corrections center offers work release programs and is typically used to help reintegrate federal prisoners back into the community after they have served their prison sentence.

“A lengthy term of imprisonment is unnecessary,” Bernhoft said. “The federal government has his full attention. He’s gotten the message.”

Stadtmueller has admitted guilt and has been suffering from anxiety and depression, Bernhoft said. He simply made “very bad judgments” while in a “desperate” financial condition, he said.

Bellamy objected to the request, stating that sentencing him to spend time in his million-dollar home with a swimming pool “is not a just punishment.”

Stadtmueller also pleaded for leniency. “No words can describe how sorry I am,” he said.

He said his marriage was in trouble and he’d lost some money in construction. “Nothing seemed to be going my way,” he said. “It was an overwhelming time in my life.”

Peterson said the taxes he should have paid would have been used to fund the military and other social programs.

“This is all part of a giant machine,” she said. “We don’t get to opt out of one or two pieces.”

Stadtmueller was also ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution.

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