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Ex-BDO Vice Chairman Given 16 Months to Think About His Choices

Let this be a lesson to anyone considering joining up with a "rogue group" of tax-sheltering jerks at your firm, you've been warned:

Former BDO Seidman LLP Vice Chairman Charles Bee’s cooperation with prosecutors in a $1 billion tax fraud probe didn’t spare him from prison, as a judge, citing the magnitude of the crime, sentenced him to 16 months.

While Bee pleaded guilty to fraud in 2009 and testified twice against BDO’s former Chief Executive Officer Denis Field, U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley in Manhattan said today he couldn’t overlook Bee’s participation in the biggest tax-shelter fraud in U.S. history.

“Your cooperation was important but your crimes are of unbelievable proportions,” Pauley said today in federal court in Manhattan. “I believe a term of imprisonment is entirely appropriate.”

The judge did not dismiss the value of Bee's cooperation, but stressed that Bee should have done the right thing long before he actually did and fact remains he still tried to rip off the government.

“Mr. Bee should have come forward a lot earlier than he did,” Pauley said. “Had he done so, this horrific scheme wouldn’t have gone as far as it did.”

The 16 month prison term is actually lenient, it could have been a lot worse:

“Bee was the most candid about blatant criminality that went on there,” [Assistant U.S. Attorney Nanette] Davis said. “It was a refreshing change and for that reason, the government moves for a substantial departure” from the potential life term which Bee faced because the fraud scheme was larger than $400 million.

Bee says that money blinded him, which will come off as laughable to any of you who know how much a BDO vice chairman can make. Before sentencing, he told the court he is ashamed. "Every value he held up I violated in these transactions. I felt what I had to do was to finally stop lying."

Bee and former BDO Vice Chairman Adrian Dicker — who was sentenced yesterday to 10 months in prison for his part in the tax fraud — were ordered to pay a combined $69.4 million in restitution.