The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

February 15, 2013

Former IRS employee pleads guilty to theft of public funds

PITTSBURG, Kan. —  Pittsburg resident and former employee of the Internal Revenue Service has pleaded guilty to theft of public funds of more than $26,000 after an investigation revealed she had falsified travel vouchers and work hours.

Becky L. Book, 49, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison, a fine up to $250,000 and restitution, according to information provided by Jim Cross, a spokesman with the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas.

Cross said he must confine his remarks to what is in public record, so he was not able to provide information on how long Book worked for the IRS. Book’s public LinkedIn account showed she worked “as a revenue agent for the IRS from 1991 to 2011.”

According to information provided by Cross, Book documented a significant amount of time on her assigned cases that she did not actually work. Further, she prepared 14 travel vouchers that claimed mileage to appointments with taxpayers that she never attended.

An IRS supervisory revenue agent reported the fraudulent reports on March 22, 2011. A subsequent investigation by the Inspector General for Tax Administration confirmed Book had charged 744 hours of time to her cases between March 2010 and April 2011 that she did not actually work. Instead, the report said, she took those hours off as unauthorized personal time.

During an interview by a special agent, Book admitted to filing fraudulent travel vouchers and falsifying time records to cover for her lack of work, the report said. Further, the investigation revealed Book prepared 14 travel vouchers that claimed fraudulent mileage to appointments with taxpayers that she never attended, for a loss to the government of $528.69. The total loss to the government was $26,449.65.

Sentencing is set for May 23. According to the plea agreement, Book must tender to the district court clerk a cashier’s check in the amount of $13,000 in partial payment of restitution to the IRS.

In a news release, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom commended the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tris Hunt for their work on the case.

An attempt Friday to reach Book’s attorney, Michaela Shelton, of Shelton Law Office in Overland Park, was not successful.

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