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SHERIDAN — A Sheridan man has been sentenced to three years in prison for federal tax evasion. Robert Sathre, 65, accepted a plea agreement to serve the time and pay more than $3 million in restitution. In exchange for the plea, the court dropped another charge against him and all charges against his wife, Judy Sathre.
The couple was indicted together last year.
“Judy Sathre really did nothing wrong,” defense attorney Ryan Healy said this morning. “She never should have been a part of this case.”
Healey said the Sathres had been trying to resolve their tax issues with the IRS for years after being dealt some bad financial advice from an accounting firm in Minnesota, where Sathre had sold a business in the mid-90s. At the time, the taxes owed would have been approximately $900,000, but with interest and penalties assigned by the IRS, he now owes $3.19 million.
“(Sathre) tried desperately to get this resolved dating back to the ‘90s,” Healy said. “He wrestled with the IRS for years back and forth.”
Healy said in 2007, the Sathres hired Denver-based tax attorney Joseph Thibodeau and worked with a third party to begin a process of reconciliation. As a part of those efforts, Sathre paid $500,000 to the IRS to demonstrate an earnest attempt to make amends with the situation.
“He tried to throw in the towel, but the IRS refused to let him,” Healy said. “His efforts were too little, too late.”
The specific charge Sathre pleaded guilty to was that after he sold The Rock Stop in Sheridan in 2007, he sent some of the money from the sale to a bank account in Nevis, an island in the Caribbean. Healy said Sathre admitted the reason he executed the transaction that way was to keep the money out of the purview of the IRS and also because he could get a higher interest rate on his money there.
Sathre also obtained a debit card linked to the offshore account so he would have stateside access to the funds.
After his prison term, Sathre will serve three years of supervised probation and pay restitution in the amount of $250 monthly or 20 percent of his income.
Healy said Sathre has no prior criminal history. He also said the length of the sentence assigned by Wyoming District Court Judge Alan Johnson was less than the amount recommended by established federal guidelines.
Sathre must report to prison by the end of June. The court recommended he be placed at a minimum security federal facility in Yankton, South Dakota.