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BEND, OR -- A Bend plumber was sentenced this week for filing a false tax return. Gary Ford, owner of Summit Plumbing, admitted he failed to report more than $1.6 million of income on his federal tax returns, from 2007 to 2009. He plead guilty in September.


Ford's federal criminal defense attorney Jessica May, from Eugene, says the sentence is based on the actual tax loss. "His sentence is 18 months, to be followed by one-year of supervised release. And, he's also been ordered to pay back $580,454."


He admitted he prepared his own tax returns and May says he has advice for other business owners. "One of the lessons that he has learned through this, he greatly advises people to not try to cut corners and save money by trying to do their books themselves. He says it's better in the long-run to hire a competent bookkeeper."


But, prosecutors tell a very different story.


According to the Department of Justice, Ford stated on a 2007 loan application for a $1.2 million California vacation home that he earned $26,5000 per month and his spending habits support the claim. They say in 2009 alone, he spent more than $900,000 on personal expenses, $355,000 on real estate and $280,000 on other personal investments.


Between 2006 and 2009, however, they say Ford's personal income tax returns claimed he lived at or below the poverty line. They say he paid more in interest on his three properties than he claimed as income. IRS investigators say Ford only reported income received from customers who issued him a Form 1099.


In a statement released by the DOJ, Special Agent in Charge Teri Alexander of IRS Criminal Investigation said, "Mr. Ford's case is an example of what happens when someone selfishly puts their own unfettered wants above the common good and the law." Alexander added, "Mr. Ford accumulated properties and spent lavishly while utterly shirking his civic duty to pay an honest tax. Not only that, but he left many competitors in the lurch as he undercut their bids due to the simple fact that knowing he would not be paying his taxes allowed him to recklessly offer lower bids."


With good behavior, Ford's attorney says he could be released in nine to 15 months. 


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