Public disgrace isn’t enough for federal prosecutors seeking justice against Cody resident Susan Patrick, the co-owner of the largest chain of radio stations in Wyoming.
With her husband Larry Patrick, she co-owns the media brokerage firm Patrick Communications and broadcasting company Legend Communications. The latter operates more than 20 radio stations with some in Cody, Worland, Sheridan, Buffalo and Gillette under the Big Horn Radio Network umbrella.
Last September, Susan Patrick pleaded guilty to defrauding the IRS by hiding $10 million in business revenue and $9.5 million in personal income. In total, the IRS accused her of stealing more than $2.5 million from the federal government. As part of her sentence for pleading guilty to submitting a false tax return willfully, Patrick could receive up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
As part of her plea agreement, Patrick has agreed to pay $2.5 million in restitution and interest on that amount.
No Jail Plea
Patrick has requested the U.S. District Court of Maryland issue her a sentence of probation or period of home confinement instead of prison time. She will face sentencing Feb. 20.
In a December sentencing memorandum, federal prosecutors David Hubbert and Matthew Cofer urged District Court Judge George Russell III to sentence Patrick to two years instead, as a message of deterrence to would-be tax evaders.
“Unlike the defendant, the court cannot ignore the question of general deterrence,” Hubbert and Cofer wrote. “Its sentence must send a message to would-be tax evaders that the pay-off is not worth the risk. The only way to do so is by imposing a meaningful term of imprisonment in line with the government’s recommendation.”
The attorneys point to sentencing guidelines for white-collar crimes like the ones Patrick committed as justification for issuing her a prison sentence. They said the median length of imprisonment for crimes like the one she committed is 21 months.
In a December memorandum where she made the request for no prison time, Patrick describes her tax evasion as an outlier in an “otherwise respectable, charitable, and law-abiding life.” She also cited her charitable donations and “very low risk” of recidivism as reasons she shouldn’t be sent to jail.
Patrick visited and donated significant funds to a school in Kenya, which now has multiple buildings and a roof thanks to her contributions. She also provided $60,000 in funds to a scholarship for women attending the University of Iowa and arranged a fundraising drive for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at her radio stations.
Patrick, 64, also cited ongoing health concerns as a reason for why she shouldn’t face incarceration, which include receiving “consistent professional medical treatment” and “an increased risk of severe illness and death if incarcerated.” She attributes most of the increased risk to the possibility of contracting COVID while in prison.
The tax prosecutors said she never mentioned these concerns during an earlier presentence investigation interview.
The IRS began investigating the Patricks in 2016 for irregularities noticed in their business and personal filings for tax years 2012-2014. Their accounting firm prepared these tax forms and sent them to the Patricks with instructions to file them but they never did, court documents say.
While investigating that, the IRS also learned Susan Patrick hadn’t filed corporate or personal returns and requested she file those as well.
Prosecutors say she then doctored the tax returns prepared by her accountants and falsely reduced her total income.
In addition, Patrick failed to timely file business and individual returns for 2015, which she had also hired the accounting firm to prepare. She did not pay the tax due for this return.
“When the IRS devoted its limited resources to collect the money that she owed, Patrick engaged in repeated lies and deception to cover up her crime,” a December sentencing memorandum reads.
According to the IRS, Patrick initially got away with her deception when the department determined she was in compliance, closing the collections case. It was only after a criminal investigation was filed that her fraud was discovered.
In total, she removed $10 million in receipts earned by Patrick Communications and more than $9.5 million in income that she and her husband had earned from 2012 through 2014.
Husband, Business Partners ‘Not Related To This’
After pleading guilty last fall, she resigned from Patrick Communications and issued a statement apologizing for actions, of which she said her husband and business partners were never aware.
“I am sincerely sorry for the pain and embarrassment that this is causing my family, friends, and business associates,” she wrote.
“I also apologize to the dedicated people at our radio stations across the state of Wyoming who do such a great job every day to serve their communities. Legend Communications is not related to this tax issue in any way.
“This is a tax obligation based on a very serious lapse of judgment a decade ago. I am fully ready to be held accountable and to do whatever I can and need to do to make up for my decisions of the past.”
The Whole Picture
In a Nov. 29, 2023 letter to the court, Patrick wrote that if she hadn’t committed the tax evasion, it would have likely caused the termination of her companies and the end of her marriage.
Investigators dispute this claim and say that between 2012-2015, she and her husband made more than $9 million. In 2013 alone, the couple spent more than $350,000 for a Tesla electric vehicle, a condo in Bozeman, Montana, and a vacation to the British Virgin Islands.
The couple’s current net worth is estimated at $7.5 million.
“There are millions of hardworking Americans who pay their taxes each year despite struggling to make ends meet,” the government’s sentencing memorandum reads. “Patrick was not one of them.”
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.