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Former Potsdam doctor appeals prison sentence for IRS scam attempt

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A former Potsdam orthodontist sentenced April 21 to eight years in federal prison for trying to bilk the Internal Revenue Service out of $36 million has appealed his conviction and sentence.

Glenn R. Unger, 62, filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, New York City, on Monday in U.S. District Court, Albany. Court documents do not show the basis for the appeal.

Dr. Unger, who has repeatedly been identified by federal authorities as an Ogdensburg resident, was convicted at trial Oct. 21 of obstructing and impeding the IRS, filing false claims against the United States, tax evasion and passing fictitious obligations. He was sentenced to 97 months in prison and ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, evidence at trial showed that Dr. Unger engaged in a years-long scheme to obstruct and impede the IRS by filing numerous false and fraudulent claims for refunds totaling about $36 million. From 2007 to 2011, Dr. Unger filed 14 false tax returns claiming that he had earned substantial income and had withholdings on that income entitling him to tax refunds. Despite numerous warning letters from the IRS that his returns were frivolous, he continued filing false tax returns.

Also, evidence at trial showed that Dr. Unger attempted to evade payment of taxes owed the IRS. During 2004 and 2005, he earned income and failed to file tax returns reporting the income. The IRS assessed taxes for those two years and also assessed penalties for filing frivolous returns. After the IRS filed a tax lien against property Dr. Unger owns in Saratoga County, he tried to file a fake document with the county clerk attempting to release the lien.

Evidence further showed that Dr. Unger tried to pay off a debt to another orthodontist with a fictitious document purported to be worth $200,000.

A Brooklyn native and former child actor who appeared on Broadway and at resorts in the Catskills, Dr. Unger graduated from the SUNY Buffalo School of Dentistry. He ran an orthodontics practice in Potsdam from about 1980 until the early 1990s.

According to a sentencing memorandum filed by his defense attorney, Dr. Unger did not participate in his own defense at trial and never offered an explanation as to why he left a successful dentistry practice and started filing fake IRS claims. However, the attorney, George E. Baird Jr., maintained that the false claims were “obviously bogus” and that Dr. Unger never expected to be refunded for them. Mr. Baird wrote, for example, that in March 2008 Dr. Unger claimed he paid Time Warner Cable $35 million and that he paid the same amount in withholding taxes to the IRS.

“Anyone, tax expert or not, would immediately know that this was a bogus claim and that the claim did not have even the remotest chance of causing the IRS to send Mr. Unger a tax refund of over $35 million,” Mr. Baird wrote.

Prosecutors countered that it is “preposterous” to suggest Dr. Unger did not intend to receive money from the IRS, claiming he filed returns from different locations, mailed them to different IRS service centers, requested a wide range of refund amounts, used different tax forms and submitted the returns at different times.

“He did everything within his ability to complete his scheme,” prosecutors claimed.

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