She did the time – in five seconds


When does a tax evader gain a judge’s sympathy? Perhaps when the evader is a 79-year-old widow.

You may be familiar with the case of Mary Estelle Curran, the widow in question, who pleaded guilty to criminal charges of filing false tax returns and evading approximately $668,000 in federal tax on $40 million her husband left her in a secret Swiss bank account.

After agreeing to pay almost $22 million in penalties, Curran faced a sentencing hearing that could have sent her to prison for up to six years.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp effectively sentenced Curran to five seconds of probation, giving her one year of probation and then immediately revoking it. Calling the government’s case against Curran “tragic” and “unfortunate,” the judge urged her to file a pardon application with President Obama – and then told the prosecutors they would be “spiteful” to oppose it.

“This is really a tragic situation,” the judge said. “It seems to me the government should have used a little more discretion.”

Not being in love feels so much worse, possibly like being a tax collector. Actually, nothing compares to the lowliness of a tax collector.” – Jarod Kintz, author and blogger