WASHINGTON — A former Internal Revenue Service agent charged in a lawsuit Tuesday that the agency has targeted three ethnic groups--South Koreans, Filipinos and Armenians--for tougher scrutiny in Southern California.
Richard Green, a former revenue agent based in West Los Angeles, filed his suit in federal court, claiming that he was wrongfully fired by the IRS after going on disability leave in 1990 for depression.
Green, 47, contends that an IRS manager cautioned agents at a 1988 meeting in Glendale that individuals from those countries have a greater probability of committing fraud because tax evasion is acceptable in those nations, according to the lawsuit. The suit also claims that Green was singled out for punishment after he sent a certified letter to the IRS branch chief in West Los Angeles, saying his manager had directed him to purge evidence that would prove the innocence of a taxpayer in one of the three ethnic groups.
Donald L. Schlemmer, Green's attorney in Washington, provided a copy of the letter to The Times, but Green acknowledged in an interview that he has no evidence to substantiate his allegations about ethnic targeting.
He also said the meeting in 1988 was the only time the issue was directly addressed during his employment with the agency.
IRS spokesman Wilson Fagley said the agency does not comment on pending litigation. But he said the IRS has no policy or practice of subjecting any ethnic or racial group to greater scrutiny. Fagley said the IRS does target "pockets" in society that appear to evade taxes but that those targets are based on occupation.
Green, who was hired by the IRS in September, 1987, said he remains under the treatment of a psychiatrist for depression. He lives in Loma Linda.
His suit also alleges that armed IRS officers went to Green's house in 1992 for reasons that were never made clear and left his daughter so frightened that she required psychological counseling.