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Local Accountant Convicted of Federal Tax Charges

Santa Barbara accountant Steven Pybrum, 61, has been convicted of federal tax charges, according to the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Office in Los Angeles.

Pybrum, founder of Pybrum & Co. and the Family Business Center, was found guilty late Thursday of underreporting more than $1 million in income by pretending it was instead earned by his nonprofit foundation, according to Special Agent Linda Lowery, public information officer for the IRS.

The three-day trial in U.S. District Court showed evidence that Pybrum had false individual income tax returns for four years, from 1999 to 2002, she said in a press release.

Pybrum is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Gary Feess on March 4. He faces up to 12 years in federal prison and $1 million in fines. He is out of custody on a bond in the meantime.

Pybrum began depositing gross receipts from his accounting firm to a bank account for his nonprofit organization, the Foundation for Harmony and Happiness. It was said to be created to help couples avoid financial disputes, which he claimed was a leading cause of divorce, Lowery said.

Even though Pybrum made $380,000 per year from accounting work, he instead pretended it came from the Foundation for Harmony and Happiness for providing marital counseling.

“Prosecutors stated at trial that there was no evidence that the foundation 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,” Lowery said.

He also used both business accounts to pay his personal expenses, such as renting space in a Montecito mansion and buying a plane, fishing boat and sports utility vehicle.

Pybrum advertises on his website that he has appeared as a tax and financial expert on major television networks and is the author of Money and Marriage: Making It Work Together.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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