Allison Lambert, 43, of Man, was sentenced Wednesday to one year and one day in prison as a result of her plea of guilty to income tax evasion.
U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver imposed the one year and one day sentence so that Lambert would be able to earn “good time” and be eligible for early release from prison. Had she been sentenced to one year, she would not earn any “good time.”
In addition to the prison sentence, Lambert was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $256,000.
According to the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, Lambert earned more than $1 million in cash over the past several years, but failed to pay taxes on the cash income. She owns and operates the Colonial Room and Hotel at Man in addition to a small convenience store located beside the restaurant.
Lambert had been the vice-president of the board of education until she resigned in April, when she entered into the plea agreement with prosecutors, although nothing in the plea agreement required her resignation.
According to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, Lambert’s sentence could have been a period of incarceration of 18 to 36 months, however, Judge Copenhaver made a downward departure from the sentencing guidelines.
One of the reasons for Copenhaver’s downward departure was an outpouring of support for Lambert from the community. At least 83 Logan County residents wrote letters to Copenhaver in support of Lambert and many of those letter-writers attended the sentencing hearing.
The federal government, through Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Robinson argued for a prison sentence in Lambert’s case, but also acknowledged Lambert’s commitment to society.
“She has assets. She has an education,” said Robinson. “But she has, at each and every turn, thumbed her nose at tax laws.”
Lambert’s attorney Michael Frazier argued that no jail term was needed in the case due to Lambert’s service on the board of education and her employment as a mental health counselor at Logan-Mingo Mental Health, among other reasons, and if a jail sentence was imposed, it would warrant a downward departure.
“This is not a woman who is out buying Maseratis or golden umbrella stands,” Frazier said. “She’s not only an active and productive member, she’s a necessary member of the community.
In the presentencing memorandum, Frazier argued, “A sentence of incarceration is not needed to protect the public from further crimes by this defendant, as noted, this conduct is an aberration.”
“A sentence without incarceration will still reflect the seriousness of the offense, promote respect for the law and provide just punishment,” wrote Frazier. “[Lambert] will not skate freewithout jail time; her reputation has been irreparably tarnished , she will be forever saddled as a convicted felon, she will likely lose her teaching license and she faces huge interest and penalties in addition to the tax she owes.”
Lambert was snagged in an undercover IRS investigation in November 2008, when an IRS agent visited her businesses posing as a potential buyer. During the meeting the agent recorded Lambert talking about skimming cash from the businesses and not reporting the income to the IRS. On the tape, Lambert denied skimming money from her video lottery machines because they were so tightly controlled. She did acknowledge that the machines were her biggest source of income.
Lambert remains free on a $10,000 unsecured bond. Copenhaver ordered her to self-report to the U.S. Marshall for the Southern District of West Virginia on Sept. 24, so that she can get her business affairs in order. She will likely serve her sentence at the federal correctional center in Alderson, W.Va.