True, Henry Washington Yeh’s parents helped him file a fraudulent tax return. But it was his fault, in the first place, for involving them in his illegal activities. And last week in federal court, he was the only one of the three Vienna residents sentenced to prison – 27 months.
For Yeh, it wasn’t the first time a family member ended up in legal trouble because of him. And when he goes to prison, that won’t be for the first time, either. In Philadelphia in October 2009, Yeh was convicted of drug distribution and later sentenced to 15 months behind bars.
“He failed to report the income on his tax returns and he asked his cousin, Larry Yeh, to give false statements to investigators in Philadelphia,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Pedersen. “Larry got 24 months for money laundering and [Henry’s] conduct impeded the government’s ability to locate [Henry’s] assets.”
Then, said Pedersen, one month after his release from federal prison, Henry Yeh filed a false tax return. He filed fraudulent federal income tax returns with the IRS for several years and, when his parents helped him do so for 2007, they were arrested, too.
LAST FRIDAY, May 9, they were all in U.S. District Court in Alexandria for sentencing; the parents received probation and stiff fines and Yeh was ordered to prison. “We ask for 36 months,” said Pedersen. “His prior 15 months wasn’t enough to impede his further criminal activity.”
Judge Gerald Bruce Lee also noted that Yeh’s offense occurred while he was still on probation. “It’s evident that the defendant used his mother, father, Larry, ex-girlfriend and himself to conceal the money, and he supervised them all,” said Lee. “His parents wouldn’t have [helped him] without his suggestions.”
Pedersen said Yeh bought a home in Washington, D.C. in his name, later putting it in his parents’ name so he wouldn’t have to forfeit it. “And he didn’t disclose his assets to the government. We had to do a whole, separate investigation about them in Virginia. No one had any idea that $3.5 million in drug proceeds were put through 20 bank accounts.”
“So in Philadelphia, he didn’t disclose all his assets,” said the judge. “It’s relevant to this offense I’m sentencing him for because he had a lot more money than the $12,000 income he claimed on his tax return.”
Defense attorney Peter Greenspun said Yeh is now married and has an 18-month-old child and another on the way in September. “This is a tax case but, in his mind, the government already had his assets,” said Greenspun. “He’s working and trying to move forward with his life, and he’s got a lot of support and positive abilities.”
BEFORE SENTENCING, Yeh told Lee he had lots of time in prison to think about the freedoms and the people he missed. “I’m capable of being more than what your see,” he said. “I’m now 32 and I want to be a good father to my kids.”
But the judge had the last word. “You knew full and well what your income was and the full extent of your assets,” he said. “Your drug dealing affected your whole family; you brought [your parents] here today because of your actions, so I can’t brush this aside.”
“Tax money supports public schools, military defense, health care, etc.,” continued Lee. “So it’s not a small matter to me that you lied. You have a degree in economics and had to know better.” He then sentenced Yeh to two years, 3 months in prison, followed by a year’s supervised release.
Yeh must provide his probation officer with all his financial information and open no new lines of credit without the officer’s approval. He must also undergo substance-abuse treatment and enter a gambling-addiction program.
Lee ordered him to pay more than $210,000 in restitution, but Greenspun contended that amount should be $153,000, so Lee gave each attorney a week to return briefs to him supporting their positions. He also told Yeh he’d recommend incarceration in federal prison in Cumberland, Md., “so you can be close to your family.”