After pleading guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft after stealing the identity of an individual who had been under IRS investigation, a former IRS agent was sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in federal prison.
According to the indictment, law enforcement agents in South Korea received information that IRS Agent Bryan Cho, also known as “Yong Hee Cho,” received bribe payments from public officials at South Korea’s National Intelligence Service and National Tax Service in exchange for sensitive information that Cho had obtained from the IRS. Cho had been employed as a Special Agent with IRS Criminal Investigation since 2008, and was terminated after his arrest.
After closing the investigation of an individual suspected of criminal activities without bringing up charges against the individual, Cho retained personal information to create false identification documents and open a corporate entity overseas in the target’s name. Often using Cho’s photo along with the individual’s name, the fake documents included passports and identification cards from the Republic of Marshall Island, Philippines, and the Republic of Guinea Bissau.
Cho also lied during an official background investigation when he failed to disclose this conduct and denied having any aliases or foreign interests.
In January, Cho was arrested and charged in a 10-count indictment, including possession of a fake foreign passport, aggravated identity theft, making false statements during a background check, wire fraud, and wire fraud conspiracy. In June, he pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
“The defendant’s fraud and corruption extended to creating an entirely false identity by stealing information he obtained while conducting an investigation in his official capacity as an IRS Special Agent,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis in a press release on Tuesday. “Today’s sentence demonstrates that this Office will vigorously prosecute and hold accountable law enforcement officials who betray the public trust and violate their sworn duty to uphold the law.”
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly sentenced Cho to 30 months in federal prison. Additionally, Cho forfeited $394,374.63 as part of the plea agreement.