Local Accountant to Federal Prison
updated: Mar 05, 2013, 10:48 AM
Source: United States Attorney's Office
A Santa Barbara-based certified public accountant has been sentenced to 36 months in federal prison
for failing to report more than $1 million on federal tax returns by pretending that money earned
through his accounting business came from a charitable foundation he called the Foundation for
Harmony and Happiness.
Steven Mark Pybrum, 61, who resided in Montecito and claimed on his website that he appeared as a tax
and financial expert on national television shows, was sentenced late yesterday afternoon following his
conviction last year on four counts of subscribing to false income tax returns.
Pybrum fraudulently used money from his non-profit organization to pay personal expenses,
including renting a Montecito mansion and buying a plane, a fishing boat and an SUV.
At yesterday's sentencing hearing, United States District Judge Gary A. Feess stated Pybrum
operated a "blatant, calculated, tax-fraud scheme," and that his conduct was "indefensible."
Pybrum, who operated his accounting practice under the names of Pybrum & Company and Family
Business Center, was convicted by a jury last October. The evidence presented during a three-day trial
showed that Pybrum subscribed to false individual income tax returns for the tax years 1999 through
2002, and that he underreported his income on tax returns that were filed up to three years late.
In 1999, Pybrum began depositing receipts from his accounting practice into a bank account held
in the name of the Foundation for Harmony and Happiness (FFHH). Documents filed with the IRS stated
that FFHH was established to provide financial and conflict resolution to help couples avoid financial
disputes, which Pybrum claimed was a leading cause of divorce.
The evidence presented at trial showed that between 1999 and 2002, Pybrum brought in as much
as $380,000 per year from accounting work. But instead of reporting that income on his own tax return,
he claimed that money had been earned by FFHH for providing marital counseling. Prosecutors stated at
trial that there was no evidence that FFHH actually did any charitable work or earned any money for
charitable activities during these four years, and that FFHH was simply a name on bank accounts that
Pybrum set up to avoid paying taxes.
The investigation of Pybrum was conducted by IRS - Criminal Investigation in Los Angeles.
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