Santa Barbara accountant Steve Pybrum faces up to 12 years in prison and $1 million in fines after a jury returned a guilty verdict on federal charges that he routed money from his practice through a nonprofit and underreported his income by more than $1 million.
The jury deliberated less than three hours before returning their verdict on Oct. 25, according to a release from the Internal Revenue Service, whose criminal unit launched the investigation into Pybrum. The three-day federal trial unfolded in Los Angeles.
“It was a hard-fought case,” Mark Werksman, Pybrum’s defense attorney, told the Business Times. “We have to accept the jury’s verdict at this point, but we do intend to appeal.”
Pybrum was a well-known author who had written books on avoiding marriage problems caused by money. He founded a nonprofit called the Foundation for Harmony and Happiness to provide “counseling” to married couples.
But federal authorities alleged that the foundation was merely a name on the bank accounts where Pybrum, 61, deposited his accounting business income to avoid paying taxes on it. They alleged that the foundation conducted no valid charitable activities and that its income was instead was used to pay Pybrum’s personal expenses, “including renting space in a Montecito mansion and buying a plane, fishing boat and SUV,” according to a statement from the IRS. (Click here to read the Business Times’ previous story.)
Pybrum is slated to appear before United States District Court Judge Gary A. Feess for sentencing on March 4, 2013.