HR woman faces tax fraud charge

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has charged a Hood River woman with illegal use of health benefit funds and filing a false tax return.

On Dec. 19, Vicki Lynn Lee, 48, as arrested at her city residence by IRS agents and transported to a Portland federal court for her arraignment, according to Special Agent Kathleen Sulmonetti from the IRS Criminal Investigation field office in Portland.

Sulmonetti said the arrest stemmed from 1995-98 actions taken by Lee while she was the owner of New Steps Billing Systems in Woodburn.

According to Hood River District Attorney John Sewell, Lee is also under investigation for allegedly embezzling funds from a local business. He said that case has been turned over to the IRS for possible charges and prosecution.

While Lee was working in Woodburn, Sulmonetti said she allegedly withheld about $190,000 of health care payments that should have been used to reimburse medical care providers for services. The IRS began investigating the case, said Sulmonetti, after health care companies began registering complaints.

Sulmonetti said last week's arrest came after Lee made no attempt to pay back the misappropriated funds or amend false information listed on her 1997 tax form. She has since been released on her own recognizance but faces a maximum penalty for the two felony charges of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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