A southwest Washington cancer researcher was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 18 months in prison, three years of supervised release and $376,679 in restitution for tax evasion, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. Peter D. Urrea, 74, of Washougal, Washington made a variety of phony documents to avoid paying $376,679 he owed in income taxes for years 2005-2009. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton said, “this crime is unique because of its depth, and the tenacity and persistence” involved.
“Instead of devoting all his energies to his cancer research, this defendant schemed to avoid paying his fair share of taxes – the very income that the government uses to fund trials and approval processes for the drugs he works to develop,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “No one enjoys paying taxes, but it is an obligation we all share to keep our country strong and our safety nets in place.”
According to records filed in the case, Urrea began his scheme in 2004 by creating and filing W-2C forms on behalf of his employer Taiho Pharma USA. These forms he created and filed, falsely indicated that Taiho Pharma paid him less than half his actual salary. Urrea created other forms to indicate some of the funds were paid to a company he controlled – then Urrea falsified the business expenses associated with the company to reduce his tax obligation.
Urrea engaged in this scheme for four years, from 2004-2008. Because Urrea failed to file all of the documents required when a company amends a W-2 form, the IRS started looking into the filings in 2009. Taiho Pharma questioned why Urrea was filing a W-2C, since those forms are only to be filed by the employer. Urrea attempted to blame a different employee at Taiho Pharma, claiming he had been acting on that person’s advice. When the IRS asked for records related to expenses in tax years 2004-2008, Urrea created a letter from a fictitious Vice President at Taiho Pharma indicating Urrea would be responsible for all his research expenses – the company confirmed no such person ever worked there.
“Those who engage in dishonesty and deceit to cheat the tax system will be held accountable”, said Tamera Cantu, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in Seattle.
Urrea pleaded guilty to an information charging tax evasion in July 2013.
The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Arlen Storm.