An agent working in the Seattle branch of the Internal Revenue Service is now facing criminal charges after extorting money from the owner of a local cannabis dispensary in exchange for a lenient audit.
According to a report from the Seattle Times, Paul Hurley, 42, is on the road to federal prison for attempting to squeeze tens of thousands of dollars out of a businessman for help with a delinquent tax bill. Prosecutors say Hurley presented the dispensary owner with documents that indicated a tax debt of nearly $300,000 and then suggested the bill would have been in upwards of $1 million had he not worked some magic.
That is when Hurley asked if the two could talk “off the record,” and then, shortly thereafter, demanded $20,000 for doing the shop owner a solid. At first, the businessman refused to comply with the agent’s unusual shakedown, but eventually called him back to make a deal.
Little did Hurley know, the business owner had called federal authorities the moment Hurley left the dispensary, and together, they staged a sting operation to bring this thug to his knees.
Reports indicate that the FBI provided the dispensary owner with $5,000 cash for a down payment on the bribe, while setting him up with audio and video surveillance to record the transaction. During the initial meeting, authorities witnessed Hurley accept the cash.
The second meeting took place this Monday, when Hurley was scheduled to receive the final payment from the business owner—$15,000. After the transaction was complete, special agents reportedly apprehended Hurley, finding all of the money stuffed inside his backpack.
Hurley is now facing three counts of soliciting a bribe—a crime that could get him locked up for 15 years and cost him $250,000 in fines.
Although the dispensary owner was worried that he, too, would also be brought up on charges, that doesn’t appear to be the case, according to an IRS new release.