Berkeley Psychologist Convicted for Tax Evasion, Theft of Government Property

Hugh Leslie Baras could be fined and sentenced to up to ten years in prison.

Information provided by the office of United States Attorney Melinda Haag Northern District of California—

Yesterday a federal jury convicted Hugh Leslie Baras, a psychologist and Berkeley resident, on five counts of tax evasion and one count of theft of government property, United States Attorney Melinda Haag, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez announced.

[Related article: Feds Charge Berkeley Man with Stealing Social Security Payments and Tax Evasion]

The evidence presented during the seven-day trial before the honorable Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, United States District Court Judge, showed that Baras, who formerly worked as a psychologist at Kaiser Permanente, and as an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, started a solo, private practice in Palo Alto, Calif., in late 2002. 

At his private practice, the Baras provided clinical psychotherapy services to clients. During the years 2005 through 2009, the defendant’s private practice generated over $1,000,000 of income. Although he filed timely federal income tax returns for each of these years, Baras omitted all of the income produced by his private practice from those returns. In addition, although he was self-employed and earning substantial income, Baras continued to collect Disability Insurance Benefits from the Social Security Administration. Between 2006 and 2009, Baras received Disability Insurance Benefits payments totaling $80,615.80 to which he was not entitled.

Baras’ sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 22, 2014, at 2:00 p.m., before Judge Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of tax evasion, in violation of Title 26, U.S.C § 7201 is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. 

The maximum statutory penalty for each count of theft of government property, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C § 641 is ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. 

Michael G. Pitman is the Assistant United States Attorney prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, and the United States Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General.


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