A federal jury in Fresno on Tuesday convicted the operator of an Atwater tax consulting business for impersonating an aide to former Rep. Dennis Cardoza in an attempt to deceive a client. Susan Tomsha-Miguel, 52, was convicted of impersonating a federal officer or employee.
The jury deliberated for only 15 minutes before returning a guilty verdict, according to an announcement from Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department's Criminal Division.
The U.S. attorney's office said Tomsha-Miguel operated a tax consulting and bookkeeping business in Atwater.
A client, who owned a commercial business in Merced, hired Tomsha-Miguel to resolve a tax dispute with the Internal Revenue Service, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
Tomsha-Miguel requested help with the tax problems from Cardoza's office.
Cardoza's office agreed to help, and transmitted written material -- including a form printed on his official congressional letterhead -- to Tomsha-Miguel, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
Prosecutors presented evidence to show Tomsha-Miguel then sent her client a counterfeit letter printed on Cardoza's official letterhead, purportedly written and signed by a congressional aide.
The U.S. attorney's office said the letter falsely claimed that because of Tomsha-Miguel's efforts on behalf of her client, the aide had contacted an IRS official.
The counterfeit letter claimed the IRS official had agreed to make resolving the client's tax dispute his "number one priority" after he returned from "Washington, D.C., for an emergency strategy meeting with the U.S. Treasury Secretary and others for a planning session in the event a budget does not get passed by both the House and Senate," according to U.S. attorney's office.
In reality, the U.S. attorney's office said, the aide didn't exist, and Tomsha-Miguel had forged the letterhead by copying the official letterhead onto a blank sheet of paper.
The U.S. attorney's office said Tomsha-Miguel had written the letter from the nonexistent aide herself and then sent it to her client to mislead him into believing she had succeeded in alleviating his tax problems.
Tomsha-Miguel faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She's scheduled to be sentenced June 24 before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill, who presided over the trial.
The case was prosecuted by Barak Cohen, a trial attorney for the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and investigated by the Sacramento Division of the FBI.