A Washington area business woman who deducted nearly $500,000 of personal expenses from her family's corporate tax returns over a four-year period was sentenced today to two years imprisonment on tax charges.
Government prosecutors said the woman, Catherine Clevenger, reported as "necessary and ordinary business expenses" the cost of such things as barns and sheds for her horses, horse feed, clothing, cosmetics, lingerie, theater tickets, groceries and greeting cards and a custom-designed heated enclosed indoor swimming pool.
Mrs. Clevenger, 49, served as secretary and treasurer of the Clevenger Corp. and C & C Builders Inc., both interior construction companies located in Beltsville.
Mrs. Clevenger and her husband, Clifton Clevenger Jr., 48, were indicted here last May on 18 counts of corporate and personal income tax charges for 1973 through 1977.
Charges against the husband were dismissed today after U.S. Attorney Russell T. Baker told the judge that Clevenger only signed the tax return and did not know his wife was deducting personal expenses and hiding them on company books.
Mrs. Clevenger pleaded guilty Nov. 26 to one count of subscribing to a false corporate tax return for 1977.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynne A. Battaglia said that over a four-year period Mrs. Clevenger used the company's construction workers for personal projects as well as deducting the $175,000 cost of her new Howard County home, $332,000 for operating a family farm, and $35,000 in miscellaneous personal expenses.
U.S. District Court Judge Herbert F. Murray rejected the prosecutor's request to fine Mrs. Clevenger $5,000 as well as jailing her. He said the maximum fine allowed "would be a pinprick as far as [she is] concerned."
"I view this as one of the most egregious tax cases I have ever had anything to do with," the judge said.