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Anaheim Woman Guilty in Tax Case

Courts: Her case is the 16th involving Ingram Micro salespeople who failed to report bonuses. Company is not implicated.

September 16, 1997|JAMES S. GRANELLI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LOS ANGELES — A former saleswoman at Ingram Micro Inc. pleaded guilty Monday to failing to report her bonuses as income, making her the 16th salesperson at the huge computer parts distribution company to admit to similar charges.

Tracie Jean Sianez, 30, of Anaheim was the fourth employee at the company's Santa Ana headquarters to plead guilty in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to filing a false income tax return.

In addition, 12 current or former salespeople at the company's East Coast regional office in Buffalo, N.Y., have pleaded guilty to similar charges.

"There's one more case pending and a few others are being investigated" in Orange County, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Lee S. Arian.

The issue in all the cases involves bonuses that sales employees received from 1990 to 1995. The bonuses are commonly known in sales work as SPIFFs--special product incentive fund.

"SPIFFs have become a significant problem that the IRS is dealing with," Arian said.

Internal Revenue Service analysts, in auditing market segments in recent years, have been looking at the reporting of incentive payments by the salespeople or other commissioned employees or agents, said Christopher Conley, an IRS spokesman.

Conley said such failures to report the bonuses as income haven't been found at other companies yet.

The IRS investigations into Ingram Micro employees began in 1995, though no prosecutions were brought until this year, Arian and Conley said.

The audits and prosecutions have nothing to do with the company, said Kathleen Janson, an Ingram spokeswoman. "Some of our [employees] have had some difficulties and they're taking care of it," she said.

Sianez pleaded guilty to filing a false income tax return for the 1992 tax year. She faces a three-year prison term and a $250,000 fine at her sentencing, scheduled for Dec. 1.

Arian said Sianez had failed to report a total of $70,000 over five years, an amount that many of the others who were convicted also had failed to report.

In three previous Southern California cases, the defendants agreed to pay back taxes with penalties and interest. They were put on probation for three years.

In addition, two of the defendants, former Ingram employees Francisco Pagan, 33, and his wife, Jacqueline, 31, both of Boise, Idaho, were ordered to pay fines of $1,000 each. Christopher Sarangay, 33, of Irvine, who remains a company employee, was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, Arian said.

Still pending are charges against James Simonelli, 40, of San Clemente.

Janson wouldn't say if the company is helping employees with plea agreements or IRS settlements. She said she "wasn't aware" of anyone being fired over the felony convictions.

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