Former IRS agent gets 18-month sentence

May 17, 2007|By Matthew Dolan | Matthew Dolan,Sun reporter

Mystified about why a former Internal Revenue Service agent would blatantly skim money from the Baltimore County strip club he once owned, a federal judge in Baltimore sentenced the 60-year-old Florida man to 1 1/2 years in prison yesterday.

The defendant, Ronald C. Heidel, had pleaded guilty earlier to making false statements on his and his wife's joint 2001 tax return. He declined to speak at his sentencing in U.S. District Court yesterday, which left the sentencing judge, Andre M. Davis, at a loss to understand the motive and the nature of the crime.

"He clearly knew that it was just a matter of time" before he was caught, Davis said. "I don't know, given his background, one would have expected sophistication."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jefferson M. Gray had sought a prison term of 21 months for Heidel, noting the years-long nature of the tax fraud and a criminal record that had cashed in on his IRS career. But Davis agreed with Heidel's lawyer, Larry Nathans, who emphasized his client's recent medical problems, that the 18-month prison sentence was sufficient.

In addition to the prison time, the judge ordered Heidel to pay $135,000 in restitution and a $30,000 fine. Lawyers in the case expect his debt to the IRS to reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to the plea agreement and court documents, Heidel was an agent for the IRS in the 1970s. He was convicted in 1983 on two charges of accepting money from a company during his tenure as a federal tax agent and filing a false corporate return on behalf of a company he had audited.

Heidel owned the Gentlemen's Gold Club, a restaurant and exotic dancer bar on Pulaski Highway in Baltimore County from 1999 to 2002. He sold the business to Maurice Wyatt, a former Annapolis powerbroker who is mentioned on secret FBI tapes by indicted former Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell Sr.

As president of the club, Heidel received the cash through door admission charges and food and drink sales, court documents show. From 1999 to 2001, prosecutors said, he put almost $1.5 million in cash from the Gentlemen's Gold Club and another business in personal bank accounts rather than the company's bank accounts.

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