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Bob Audette

Brattleboro Reformer

BRATTLEBORO — A local man well-known for his barn restoration work has reached a plea agreement with the federal government for filing false tax returns.

According to court documents, Christopher Parker, of Guilford, filed false tax returns from 2014 through 2017, understating his income by more

than $800,000.

"Chris is a good guy, one of the hardest working people that I have ever known," wrote Parker's attorney, Jerome O'Neill, of Gravel & Shea, in an email to the Reformer. "He made a serious error in judgment, which he has acknowledged ..."

On the advice of his attorney, Parker declined to talk with the Reformer.

"As soon as the issue arose, [Parker] retained the services of a very competent CPA, Joe Pieciak," wrote O'Neill, who noted Parker has since filed an accurate tax return for 2019 and has filed amended tax returns for the years at issue.

"He is working six to seven days a week, very long days and will pay off the taxes, interest and penalties that he owes as promptly as he can," O'Neill wrote. "Fortunately, the work he does is in great demand and so he should be able to pay the back amounts owed in a timely manner."

Parker was investigated by Anders Ostrum, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

"Evidence also shows that Parker conducted financial transactions, including transactions involving his son ... to engage in tax evasion by, among other things, diverting checks payable to Parker's business to [his son's] account," Ostrum wrote in court documents.

Ostrum reviewed Parker's bank records in making his determination that Parker filed false tax returns.

"I know that cashing customer checks, operating extensively in cash, structuring banking transactions to avoid currency transaction report filings, and endorsing customer checks to third-parties are all affirmative steps that individuals who do not comply with their federal tax obligations utilize in order to conceal their income and assets from government authorities," Ostrum wrote.

In the plea agreement that was reached on Wednesday, Parker agreed to plead guilty to one count of tax evasion. To fulfill the requirements of the plea agreement, he must cooperate fully with the Examination and Collection Divisions of the IRS and make a good faith effort to pay all delinquent and additional taxes, interest, and penalties.

According to the agreement, Parker owes the IRS $281,407 in taxes for the years 2014 through 2017 on gross revenue of $3.35 million. According to the agreement, Parker only claimed $2.5 million in revenue.

Parker could also receive up to five years in jail, though the actual sentence will be determined by a federal judge in accordance with federal sentencing guidelines that factor in previous criminal convictions, of which Parker has none, admission of wrong and acceptance of responsibility. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to his website, Parker moved to Windham County from Springfield, Mass., in 1980, working as a carpenter for four years before starting up Chris Parker Building and Restoration.

Bob Audette can be contacted at raudette@reformer.com.


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