Colorado Springs chiropractor sentenced for conspiracy

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Thomas Forster Gehrmann Jr., 45, of Colorado Springs was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge R. Brook Jackson to serve 24 months in federal prison followed by three years on supervised release for conspiracy to defraud the United States and filing three false income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service. U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn and IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Steven Osborne announced the sentence in a news release issued by the state attorney general’s office. Gehrmann was indicted on July 22, 2015. He was found guilty after a six-day trial before Jackson on Nov. 6. Gehrmann was sentenced last week and a hearing to determine restitution is scheduled for May 23.

“According to information contained in the indictment and evidence presented at trial, from January 2007 until September 2011, Gehrmann conspired to defraud the U.S. by filing false U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns for the calendar years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 after failing to disclose to his CPA income diverted from cash and checks,” according to the release.

Atlas Chiropractic Center at Briargate Inc. and SpineMed Decompression Centers of Colorado LLC (collectively, the “Atlas Entities”) are located in Colorado Springs.

“During times relevant to this indictment, the Atlas Entities shared employees, business bank accounts, an outside bookkeeper, a Certified Public Accountant, and other resources, which were jointly managed by Gehrmann,” the release said.

Patients of the Atlas Entities typically checked in for their appointments at a reception desk, completed requested paperwork and were seen by Gehrmann, according to the release, which added payments for the services were made by means of check, cash, credit card or a third-party payer, such as an insurance company or an attorney. A sign was placed on the Atlas Entities reception desk that directed patients to make their checks payable to the individual chiropractic provider, rather than one of the Atlas Entities. Employees would copy each check received from a patient or third party payer, and compile copies of the checks in the Atlas Entities’ check binder. Daily spreadsheets were created and maintained in the binder, known as the “Daily Stats Sheets.”

Checks made payable to Atlas or SpineMed were regularly deposited in the business bank accounts for the Atlas Entities, together with patients’ payments via credit card, the release said. The actual cash and checks made payable to Gehrmann were placed into a receptacle known as the “cookie jar,” which was typically kept in Gehrmann’s office. Cash payments were kept separately and divided between the defendant and two other chiropractors.  Once each week they divided up the contents of the “cookie jar” between themselves and that for certain periods, Gehrmann noted the amount that each person received as his share for that week in a book titled “Secret Records.”

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According to the attorney general’s office, statements reflecting the deposits into the Atlas Entities’ business bank accounts were sent to the outside bookkeeper who understood those were the total business income for the Atlas Entities. Those records were in turn supplied to the CPA for his use in preparing documents and filings including partnership tax filings for the Atlas Entities, and individual tax returns of Gehrmann. He did not send to the Atlas Entities’ outside bookkeeper or the CPA the check binders, the Daily Stats Sheets, or any other documents that included records reflecting all payments by Atlas Entities’ patients. 

 “On this tax day, it is important to remind would-be tax-cheats that we will aggressively investigate and prosecute tax fraud cases and that those found guilty can face significant jail time,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn in the news release. 

“Tax fraud is not a victimless crime,” Steven Osborne, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, said in the release.  “This is an important victory for America’s taxpayers who play by the rules and have no tolerance for those who shirk their tax responsibilities.  The courts have overwhelmingly and consistently shown that you will be held accountable for such actions, and today’s sentencing is a costly reminder.”

Carlson, who pled guilty to filing a false tax return on Oct. 24, is scheduled to be sentenced by Jackson April 17.

This case was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation and prosecuted by assistant U.S. attorneys Suneeta Hazra, Bryan Fields and Conor Flanigan.