By Columnist Jim Kouri
In the midst of a far-reaching Internal Revenue Service scandal, a chairman of a local Democratic Party committee and father of an officeholder in New Jersey confessed on Friday that he bribed two IRS officials so that they would erase his federal tax debt, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
Michael Kazmark, a resident of Woodland Park, N.J., who served as the chairman of the Woodland Park Democratic Party Committee in Passaic County, is the father of Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark, also a Democrat.
The 60-year-old Democrat pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Simandle in a federal courtroom in Camden, N.J., to one count of bribing a federal public official in exchange for official action. He admitted making $18,500 in bribery payments to people he believed were IRS agents.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made during Kazmark’s guilty plea allocution, Kazmark failed to pay federal income taxes for eight years – from 1997 through 2005.
In 2010, Kazmark owed the U.S. government $98,046 in unpaid federal income taxes, interest, and penalties. On April 18, 2010, Kazmark submitted an application to the IRS requesting that he pay $48,800 in order to settle his entire federal tax debt.
On Oct. 5, 2010, Kazmark paid a $1,000 bribe to two individuals he thought were IRS officials in exchange for their official assistance in transferring his offer an official who would accept the compromise, according to the prosecutors.
Kazmark admitted that on Nov. 23, 2010 he made an illegal payment of $17,500 to the individuals in exchange for their official assistance in placing his federal tax liability in non-collectible status for two years and agreeing to accept Kazmark’s offer in compromise for the amount of the check that he had already paid to the IRS –$9,760 – if he did not incur any additional federal tax liability for two years.
The single count to which Kazmark pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, twice the aggregate loss to victims or gain to the defendant, or three times the amount of the bribe payments. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 28, 2013.
The powerful tax-collecting and enforcement agency, the Internal Revenue Services (IRS), recently conceded that its agents targeted conservative PACs and Tea Party groups for politically-motivated audits during the 2012 election. While GOP lawmakers continue to investigate the case, Democrats are vocally defending the agency and the Obama administration.
Jim Kouri, CPP, the fifth Vice President and Public Information Officer of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, has served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.