LAFAYETTE PARISH, LA (KPLC) - A Leesville man was sentenced in federal court this week for failure to pay company payroll taxes, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley.
Finley said 61-year-old Larry Wayne Bruce was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Richard T. Haik to serve five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for failing to pay corporate payroll taxes collected from Express Marketing Inc. (EMI) employees and for failure to pay his own personal taxes.
Finley said Haik also ordered Bruce to pay restitution in the amount of $190,783.96 to the owners of EMI and restitution in the amount of $294,070.98 to the IRS.
"According to evidence presented during the guilty plea and sentencing, Bruce admitted to being responsible for not paying payroll taxes owed to the Internal Revenue Service while working as the financial officer for EMI in Leesville from 2003 to 2007. Bruce admitted the owners relied on him to pay the payroll taxes withheld from EMI employee paychecks and also admitted to taking more than $190,000 in excess of his salary from EMI during the time he failed to pay the taxes. By Bruce not paying the payroll taxes collected from EMI's employees, EMI realized a profit of approximately $1 million per year," the release states.
Finley said Bruce embezzled part of the money, but also "manipulated company documents and reports to make EMI seem more profitable than it really was by withholding these tax liabilities from the owners and banks."
"Because of Bruce's conduct, the loss to the IRS exceeds $3 million. The loss represents payroll taxes taken from EMI employee checks for several years but never paid to the IRS or reported to Social Security or other agencies. EMI collected the taxes from employees and kept the money under Bruce's management," the release states.
Finley said Bruce also pleaded guilty to another count of the pending indictment, where he admitted to not paying his personal taxes from 2005 until he left the company in 2007.
"The owners and employees of EMI relied on the defendant to fulfill his responsibility as financial officer for the company," Finley said. "When Bruce chose to ignore his duty to pay the payroll taxes, he caused significant loss of tax revenue to the United States government and loss of future Social Security or Medicare benefits for the employees, all while embezzling extra money for himself. Yesterday, the defendant was held accountable for his actions, and in the end, the sentence represents appropriate justice. Further motivated by his greed, Bruce also willfully violated tax laws when he failed to file his personal income taxes for several years."
Finley said the IRS conducted the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Myers P. Namie prosecuted the case.