Delaware Restaurant Owner Indicted for Attempting to Bribe an IRS Employee
On June 7, 2016, in the District of Delaware, Domenico Procope was indicted for bribery of a public official. Procope had been arrested on May 18, 2016, for knowingly and corruptly offering and promising something of value to an employee of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with the intent to influence official acts.
According to the court documents, Procope is a Delaware resident who owns and operates several restaurant establishments in the State. Procope had accumulated a significant business-related and personal income tax liability, which, as of February 2016, had grown to a total liability of approximately $531,000. Of that amount, Procope’s personal liability was approximate $434,000.
Around October 2015, an IRS revenue officer was assigned to Procope’s IRS case and was working to resolve his tax liabilities. In December 2015, the revenue officer requested a personal financial statement from Procope. When Procope failed to provide the requested documentation, the revenue officer issued a Notice of Levy to the insurance company that maintains Procope’s retirement account. As a result, approximately $16,000 was turned over to the IRS from Procope’s retirement account.
Prompted by the levy on his retirement account, in February 2016, Procope communicated with the revenue officer several times by telephone and in person to discuss his income tax liability. During these contacts, Procope offered to pay the IRS revenue officer a sum of money in exchange for the revenue officer’s taking the official action of reducing or eliminating his income tax liabilities with the IRS.  Specifically, Procope told the revenue officer he wanted “this to go away,” referring to his personal tax liability. Procope indicated he was not interested in submitting an offer in compromise to settle his IRS debts and told the revenue officer that he would give her $70,000 to make his tax debt “go away.”
During a personal meeting at Procope’s place of business in Bear, Delaware, immediately after the departure of Procope’s accountant from the meeting, Procope reiterated that he had $70,000 to resolve his tax debt. Procope proposed he pay $40,000 to the Government and $30,000 in cash for the revenue officer. Procope said the cash payment would be in exchange for a reduction in his IRS tax liabilities and indicated that he expected the revenue officer, in her official capacity, to cause the IRS to issue a letter stating he had satisfied his personal liability of approximately $434,000.
The following day, the revenue officer again met with Procope. During this meeting, Procope gave the revenue officer a check in the amount of $40,000, made payable to the IRS, with the memo of “paid in full” written on the check. Additionally, he gave the revenue officer $30,000 in cash. At the end of the meeting, Procope requested to meet with the revenue officer one or two weeks later to resolve his business-related tax debt.
Procope could face a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment. Additional legal proceedings are anticipated.