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VALLEY FOCUS | Sylmar

Doctor Pleads No Contest to Tax Evasion

July 18, 1998|TOM SCHULTZ

A Sylmar doctor has pleaded no contest to four counts of state income tax evasion.

Douglas P. Slabaugh, 37, a self-employed emergency room physician, failed to file state income tax returns from 1993 to 1996, according to the state Franchise Tax Board.

"Essentially, he just doesn't file returns," said Denise Azimi, a tax board spokeswoman. "We noticed that this particular man had a lot of income reported [on 1099 forms] by various doctors and medical groups. This man just disregarded notice after notice, so we pursued him with criminal charges."

Slabaugh's unreported income from 1993 to 1996 totaled nearly $500,000, according to the tax board. He entered his plea this week in Van Nuys Superior Court and is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday.

Richard Size, the Los Angeles County deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case, said Slabaugh will be sentenced to probation and community service as part of his plea agreement.

He also will be ordered to pay between $60,000 and $80,000 in back taxes, penalties and the cost of the tax board investigation, Size said.

And the felony counts will be considered misdemeanors so Slabaugh can retain his doctor's license in order to pay his debt, Size said.

"If he violates his probation, he can get up to a year in jail on each count," Size said.

About 500,000 Californians neglect to file taxes each year, according to the tax board.

"Probably 1% of these cases are pursued criminally," said Azimi, who added that most cases involve individuals opposed to taxation who withhold their payments in protest and people who cannot afford to pay come tax time.

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