April 16, 2013



Former IRS agent sent to prison for murder-for-hire plot

Steven Martinez of Ramona, CA, used to be a successful CPA. With several big accounts, and the lavish lifestyle to prove it, the 51-year-old had it made—by stealing from his clients.

Back in 2011, Martinez was charged with tax fraud. Over a four-year period, he defrauded his clients out of $11 million by preparing phony returns that showed that they owed significant amounts of tax. He requested personal checks for the balances due, filed a second set of fake returns that showed little to no tax liability, and then used the excess money for his own means. These means included a large home in Ramona, a beach house in Mexico, a boat and access to a private jet.

But while recently out on bail, he cooked up a plot to kill four of the clients who would have been witnesses in that case.

He tried to hire a hit man, offering a cooperating witness for the FBI money and detailed dossiers to do the job. These dossiers held descriptions of the would-be victims’ homes, daily activities, living habits, when they walked the dog, and how to access their homes. He had carefully planned the murders, and suggested the FBI’s witness use a weapon with a silencer. Martinez, in a taped conversation, said that he’d give the hit man $100,000 if he “eliminated the lady in Rancho Santa Fe and the lady in La Jolla.”

The would-be hit man went to the FBI with the tape, and Martinez was charged and pleaded guilty for soliciting a crime of violence, witness tampering, mail fraud, filing false tax returns, Social Security fraud, identity theft and money laundering.

The former IRS agent was sentenced to nearly 24 years in prison on Friday, and ordered to pay more than $14 million in restitution to the IRS, the victims, and the California Franchise Tax Board.