News India Times

Long Beach, California psychiatrist found guilty of bribing IRS agent

Photo: Justice.gov

An Indian-American psychiatrist of Long Beach, California, has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for paying a cash bribe to an Internal Revenue Service agent auditing his tax returns.

Dr. Harshad Shah, 62, of Cypress, was sentenced on Nov. 3, by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney, despite arguing that he was entrapped into paying the bribe. After imposing the 51-month prison sentence, Judge Carney remanded Shah into custody.

Shah was convicted of one count of bribery of a public official by a federal jury after a five-day trial in October 2016. The federal jury found that Shah paid a $30,000 cash bribe to an IRS revenue agent who had determined Shah owed $410,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties.

Prior to pronouncing the sentence on Friday, Judge Carney denied defense motions for a new trial, to dismiss the indictment, to acquit Shah, and to strike the pre-sentence report, on grounds of entrapment.

Judge Carney addressed these claims that Shah was subjected to some sort of sting operation.

“The Government played multiple recordings of Defendant’s own words at trial that demonstrated that Defendant was not induced by the Government to commit bribery,” Judge Carney maintained, adding, “The recordings provided direct evidence that Defendant controlled the relationship with [the IRS revenue agent], initiated the bribe offer, and continued to pressure [the revenue agent] to accept the bribe despite [the revenue agent]’s reluctance and multiple reminders that this conduct was illegal.”