Ex-IRS agent pleads guilty in conflict of interest case

A former supervisory agent and group manager at the Internal Revenue Service’s Baton Rouge office admitted in federal court Monday that her private tax and accounting business generated more than $70,000 while she was employed by the IRS.

Jeanne L. Gavin, 61, of Baton Rouge, pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson to misdemeanor charges stemming from her unauthorized and simultaneous operation of a private tax service.

Jackson ordered a presentence investigation and scheduled Gavin’s sentencing for Sept. 12.

Federal prosecutors charged Gavin on March 28 with one count of conflict of interest and another count of exceeding authorized access to a government computer. Each count is punishable by up to one year in prison and each carries possible fines that could total as much as $100,000.

Jackson said restitution is a possibility.

“It’s a very troubling set of facts, to say the least,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Amundson told the judge.

Gavin left the IRS in September 2009 after a 30-year career.

“We’re pleased by the government’s offer to a misdemeanor,” Gavin’s attorney, Anthony Bertucci, said outside the federal courthouse in Baton Rouge.

Gavin formed a tax and accounting service called Too Cool Enterprises LLC in 2005, according to her criminal charges and records of the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office.

Gavin’s federal charges allege that she operated that company from 2005 through 2009 without first obtaining a written conflict of interest waiver from the IRS. Gavin knew the IRS would not have provided a conflict of interest waiver to perform private tax services, the charges state.

Gavin had previously used the IRS waiver process to gain permission to operate other businesses that were unrelated to tax services, the charges allege.

While still at the IRS, her charges allege, Gavin had access to the service’s Integrated Data Retrieval System, which provided “databases and operating programs that supported IRS employees working active tax cases.” Gavin secretly and improperly used that system for the benefit of Too Cool Enterprises, according to her charges.

Amundson told Jackson that Gavin used her position as an IRS manager to improperly cause subordinates to access IRS databases on more than 2,000 occasions between 2005 and 2009 for the benefit of her private tax and accounting business.