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Tax fugitive on the run for 21 years returned to U.S. for sentencing

Man in jail_hands holding bars

The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.

Yes, it's a cliché, one with an origin attributed to many. But for the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) this week, it applies. Finally.

After 21 years as a fugitive, convicted tax felon Robin J. McPherson was once again in a U.S. federal courtroom. He had been evading the justice system since December 2000, when he and two co-codefendants were found guilty of conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and of tax evasion that totaled more than $1 million.

But before his scheduled sentencing in March 2001, the former San Diego, California, telemarketing company owner skipped the country. McPherson eventually was arrested in Costa Rica, and officials of that Central American nation deported him back to the United States.

His stopover this week in a Houston federal courtroom is just his first reentry into the U.S. legal system. McPherson now faces formal sentencing for his two-decade-plus tax crime convictions. Again, finally.

The yet-to-be-scheduled appearance before a federal Southern District of California judge could get McPherson a possible maximum of five years in prison on each of the conspiracy and tax evasion counts. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.

And once the DoJ is done with the decades old tax case, McPherson will face separate federal fraud and money laundering charges in Oregon.

Tax season timing: U.S. law enforcement officials involved in the multi-agency, multinational effort's case noted that the timing of its successful completion was particularly satisfying.

"It is fitting that Robin McPherson was arrested and returned to the United States to be sentenced on his tax crime convictions," said Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department's Tax Division.

"While honest Americans are paying their fair share this filing season, they will be reminded that the department and IRS will ensure that those who have defrauded the IRS are held fully accountable, no matter how long it takes," added Goldberg.

U.S. Attorney Randy S. Grossman for the Southern District of California, in thanking the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Costa Rican authorities for their help in returning the fugitive to the United States, also acknowledged the tax season timing.

"This defendant dodged both his taxes and his sentencing hearing," said Grossman, but now "he'll now be held responsible for both."

The IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) unit, which conducted the investigation, also lauded the long-awaited conclusion to the 21-year-old case and cited the outcome as evidence of the tax agency's commitment to successfully concluding tax crime investigations.

"After eluding the authorities as a fugitive, McPherson was finally caught and is now being brought back to the United States to face his crimes. Criminals may think that they can run and evade justice, but we as a law enforcement agency will continue to hold them accountable," said Charge Ryan L. Korner, IRS CI Special Agent in Charge.

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