The former mayor of Port Richey and his wife will spend six months behind bars, followed by six months of home confinement for tax evasion.
Richard Rober, 52, and Averill Rober, 47, both apologized to the court and their community and pledged to pay restitution before they were sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge James Moody. The Robers each pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.
Rober resigned as mayor March 28, disclosing he was under investigation on tax charges.
"They have done everything they can to right the wrong they have done," said attorney Douglas DeVlaming, who represented both defendants. "A lot of people think money buys happiness. It did not bring happiness to the Robers. It brought sadness, destruction and ruin."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Mosakowski told the judge that early in the investigation, Richard Rober volunteered to plead guilty if his wife was not charged.
He said the fraud was committed by the Robers over a period of years. He called it "a crime based upon greed."
The charge the Robers admitted carries a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison followed by up to three years of probation, plus a fine. After the Robers complete their incarceration, they are to serve the three years of probation. The home confinement is a condition of the probation, as is restitution.
The couple admitted that Richard Rober skimmed income checks payable to his wife's corporation, Gator Water and Wastewater Management Inc. They both used these proceeds for personal purposes and purposely failed to inform the accountants who prepared their tax returns of these monies.
The Robers then signed and filed with the IRS joint individual income tax returns, which failed to reflect this additional income. It was alleged that they underreported more than $239,000 during a three-year period, the documents said. The additional tax due and the amount they owe exceeds $55,000.
The couple sold the business in 2007 and later sued the person who purchased it because he failed to make the final payment, DeVlaming said. The Robers have signed a document surrendering any proceeds from the lawsuit to the Internal Revenue Service. That amount should be about $150,000, according to DeVlaming.
Moody allowed the Robers to report to a prison or jail designated by U.S. marshals at a later date. The judge denied a defense motion that they be allowed to serve their sentence in a halfway house.