Martha’s Vineyard CPA gets home confinement on federal charges

Certified public accountant Roger Armstrong paid what he owed and avoided jail time for underreporting income.

The office of Roger Armstrong on Beach Road was closed Friday afternoon.

Updated 11:30 am, Monday

Roger Armstrong, a certified public accountant (CPA) and tax preparer with an office on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven, found guilty of tax fraud, must spend the next nine months at home but is allowed to work in his office. The alternative was jail.

In January 2015, Mr. Armstrong pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Boston to three counts of filing false tax returns in which he underreported more than $800,000 in income for three years.

On Tuesday, April 28, U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani sentenced Mr. Armstrong to three years of probation, the first nine months of which are to be served in home confinement, and ordered him to pay a fine of $3,000, according to a press release from the office of United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.

At the sentencing hearing, Mr. Armstrong paid restitution of $389,365, which included his taxes owed, as well as interest and penalties.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said Mr. Armstrong owned rental property in Massachusetts and Florida. “As a sole proprietor, Mr. Armstrong was required to accurately report his gross receipts and his business profit or loss on his individual income tax returns and also was to report any rental income he received. For tax years 2009 through 2011, Mr. Armstrong filed tax returns in which he significantly underreported both his business gross receipts and his rental income. Specifically, he did not report a total of $790,000 in gross receipts and $47,000 in rental income, and, as a result of the underreporting, did not pay $200,000 in taxes.”

Mr. Armstrong has handled tax preparation and accounting for clients on Martha’s Vineyard for more than 20 years, according to his business profile on the social media business site LinkedIn.

“I regret this and I want to move on,” Mr. Armstrong told The Times in a telephone conversation Monday. Mr. Armstrong said his office remains open and he is allowed to go to work every day under the terms of his home confinement.

Following his guilty plea in January, Mr. Armstrong was released on personal recognizance, after he posted an unsecured $10,000 bond. He was ordered to surrender his passport, to refrain from possessing firearms, and to refrain from any use of alcohol.

The maximum sentence Mr. Armstrong faced was three years in prison, and a $250,000 fine for each offense.

According to the January plea agreement, the U.S. attorney agreed to recommend to the judge that Mr. Armstrong make restitution to the IRS in the amount of $389,365, which included interest and penalties. They also recommend a jail sentence on the low end of the federal sentencing guidelines. As part of the plea agreement, the U.S. attorney agreed not to seek additional criminal charges for crimes underlying the tax fraud charges.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and William P. Offord, special agent in charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston, made the announcement Thursday. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra S. Bower of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.