Issues

Dem Chief of Staff Faces Five Years In Prison for Falsifying Security Form

Thompson staffer failed to report that he did not pay $150,000 of income taxes

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A staffer for Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.) is facing up to five years in prison for falsifying a security clearance form, according to a report.

Isaac Lanier Avant, chief of staff in Rep. Thompson's Washington, D.C. office, did not disclose on a security form that he had failed to pay income taxes. The announcement was made Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, Roll Call reports.

Thompson is the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Homeland Security. Avant, who served as Democratic staff director on the committee, had to complete the form for his position.

Avant failed to timely file his individual tax returns from 2009 through 2013, the Justice Department announced in January.

"Despite earning more than $165,000, Avant failed to timely file his 2009 through 2013 individual income tax returns, causing a tax loss of $153,522. Avant had no federal income withheld during those years because in May 2005, he caused a form to be filed with his employer that falsely claimed he was exempt from federal income taxes," the department said in its press release. "Avant did not have any federal tax withheld from his paycheck until the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mandated that his employer begin withholding in January 2013. Avant did not file tax returns until after he was interviewed by federal agents."

Avant was sentenced to 30 days in prison followed by incarceration every weekend for 12 months and was ordered to pay restitution of $149,962 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Thompson's office did not return a request for comment from Roll Call on whether Avant is still employed by the congressman.

There is no end date to his employment on Legistorm, a congressional tracking website.