Colorado Woman Pockets $4.7 Million in Employment Taxes

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A Colorado woman is facing up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 after pleading guilty this week to failing to pay more than $4.7 million worth of employment taxes, the U.S. Attorney's Office reported on Wednesday. Here are the details.

* Beth Ann Pettyjohn, 60, pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of failure to pay over tax in a case that IRS Criminal Investigation agent Stephen Boyd says not only defrauded the U.S. government but also created financial havoc for employees.

* According to the U.S. Attorney's Denver District office, Pettyjohn is the co-owner and vice president of Overhead Door Company of Denver.

* From September 2003 to June of 2009, Pettyjohn managed the accounting department for the Overhead Door Company of Denver, determining which bills were paid as well as issuing and signing related checks.

* Pettyjohn stopped paying over the payroll taxes -- income taxes withheld and FICA -- that the company withheld from the employee wages of both hourly and salaried employees as well as the matching portion of FICA.

* The U.S. Attorney's Office reported that Pettyjohn admitted to an IRS agent that she knew she had a duty to pay the nearly $4.7 million in taxes, but that she did not do it "because the IRS was not beating down her door."

* During the time period of 2005-07, Pettyjohn was paid about $133,000 per year in wages from the Overhead Door Company of Denver.

* After Pettyjohn stopped paying over the payroll taxes at the company, she and her husband began purchasing pieces of real estate, the attorney's office stated. The property included a $349,900 condominium in Gypsum, Colo., in August 2007, for which the Pettyjohns put a down payment of $100,000.

* Further, according to the attorney's office, the Pettyjohns paid $285,000 in cash in 2009 to purchase a condominium in suburban Denver that was resold a few months later.

* According to the website , Pettyjohn was also a contributor to political campaigns during that time, donating $750 to the Republican National Committee and another $500 to the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008.

* Pettyjohn and her husband lived in a home valued at more than $1 million during the time period in question and for many prior years, the attorney's office reported.

* Pettyjohn holds a bachelor's degree in business with a major in accounting, the attorney's office stated. Additionally, she has an inactive CPA license from the State of Colorado.

* "An employer who withholds payroll taxes from her employees but keeps those amounts for herself instead of paying them to the IRS has committed a theft that hurts both her employees and the taxpayers of the United States," said U.S. Attorney John Walsh, adding that the defendant was well educated, knew the tax laws and knew that the laws applied to her company.

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