OAKLAND, Calif. – Hugh Leslie Baras, 68, of Berkeley, Calif., was arraigned this morning in Federal Court on one count of theft of government property and five counts of tax evasion, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.
According to the superseding indictment, between January 2006 and November 2009, Baras willfully purloined approximately $80,615.80 in Social Security Administration benefit payments to which he was not entitled. Baras also willfully attempted to evade a large part of the income tax due by filing false U.S. individual income tax returns for the years 2005 through 2009. On those returns, Baras stated that his combined taxable income for 2005 through 2009 was $193,385 with tax due of $29,705. When in fact he knew his taxable income for those years was $1,176,815 with tax due of $406,447.
The superseding indictment also includes a criminal forfeiture allegation contained in the indictment. Upon conviction of count one, theft of government property, the defendant shall forfeit to the United States any property, real or personal, that constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the offense.
The maximum statutory penalty for each count of tax evasion, in violation of Title 26, U.S.C § 7201 is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of theft of government property, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C § 641 is ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Charles Parker, Special Assistant United States Attorney and Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Moore are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Kathy Tat. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, and the United States Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General.
Please note, an indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Baras must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.