An El Dorado Hills couple was sentenced today for their criminal efforts to avoid paying federal income taxes, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced in a press release issued by the United States Attorney’s Office Tuesday.
Brian Beland, 39, was sentenced to 21 months in prison and a $30,000 fine, and Denae Beland, 40, was sentenced to five years of supervised release and a $25,000 fine.
After an 8-day trial, a federal jury found Brian Beland guilty of four counts: three for filing false tax returns for 2011, 2012, and 2013, and another count for corruptly impeding the ensuing tax audit. The tax returns illegally claimed both personal expenses and fabricated expenses as tax deductions. The jury also found Denae Beland guilty of corruptly impeding the tax audit.
“The Belands used tax fraud to pay almost no taxes for three years on their approximately $1.1 million income,” said U.S. Attorney Talbert. “They purposely lied in order to fund their family’s lavish lifestyle when they should have just told the truth and paid their taxes like millions of other Americans. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who fail to comply with their federal tax obligations.”
“Greedy schemes to falsify business expenses in order to evade income tax, such as those utilized by Brian Beland, are unfair to every taxpayer who obeys the law and pays their fair share. The Beland’s flaunted their ill-gotten gains with extravagant vacations, vehicles, home improvement, and other items,” said Darren Lian, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation’s Oakland Field Office. “Today’s sentence affirms the IRS CI will hold individuals accountable to tax laws that they are subject to. Those who fail to do so will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted.”
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Brian Beland was a mortgage broker for Wells Fargo and then Bank of America from 2011 through 2013. He claimed business expenses in excess of $800,000 for all three years, effectively paying only a 2% tax on the more than $1.1 million he earned. Denae Beland was an attorney licensed by the California State Bar, but she was suspended after this conviction and is currently not eligible to practice law in California.
When the IRS began a civil audit of their taxes, Brian and Denae Beland tried to hide their crimes by falsely claiming that personal expenses were business expenses, telling falsehoods to the civil examiner, and obstructing the IRS audit by not providing requested documents.
During the audit the Belands claimed falsely that their business records had been shredded or lost. They then created false spreadsheets for the IRS that listed various personal expenses as business expenses in order to justify their fraudulent deductions, including travel to Europe, the Eiffel Tower, Hawaii, and Cancun; wine racks and a personalized wine bottle in their wine cellar; a California king bed; patio furniture; automated tiki torches; birthday party and baby shower expenses; home gym exercise flooring; and other items. In June 2016, the IRS executed a search warrant at the Belands’ house in El Dorado Hills.
In addition to finding many pieces of furniture and household goods that had been claimed as business expenses, agents also found various tax records and receipts from the years in question, despite the Belands’ claims that all records and receipts had been destroyed. In some case those records and receipts were found together with correspondence from the IRS related to the very same audit they were obstructing.
This case was the product of an investigation by IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Veronica M.A. Alegría and Lee S. Bickley prosecuted the case, according to the press release.