Guilty tax lawyer still awaits sentencing

Postponements of hearing now add up to 19 months

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

Published:

 

Nearly two years since pleading guilty to federal charges, former Washougal finance director and licensed tax lawyer Jeffrey Bivens has yet to begin his prison sentence.

He doesn't even know how long a sentence he'll serve.

Bivens pleaded guilty in October 2010 to making materially false statements to the Small Business Administration and Wachovia Bank. He was scheduled to be sentenced at U.S. District Court in Tacoma in May 2011.

But that sentencing hearing never happened.

Before the scheduled hearing, Bivens attorney requested a postponement, which the court granted. Bivens' attorney cited a personal health matter as the reason for the request, said U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman Emily Langlie.The new hearing was set for September 2011, but it was delayed again and again, due to the attorney's health issues and additional investigating in the case, Langlie said. Then in May, the assistant U.S. attorney on the case asked for a postponement, so he could undergo cancer treatment, she said.

Bivens, 35, is currently scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 10. Under the terms of the plea agreement, he faces five years in prison and shares a portion of the $1.7 million loss associated with the bank and SBA loan.

The crime

The charges followed Bivens' role in the sale of a Longview-based disaster restoration company in May 2007.

Bivens provided Wachovia Bank with an inaccurate sale price of the business he was representing. As a result, the bank agreed to a loan of $2 million, which was guaranteed by the SBA, to the purchaser, according to court documents.

In January, Bivens filed a permanent resignation from the Washington State Bar Association in lieu of disbarment. Accompanying the resignation was a $1,000 check to the state bar association to pay for expenses and costs.

In May 2009, while a member of the Washougal City Council, Bivens was hired by former Mayor Stacee Sellers to serve as the city's finance director. He was fired in December 2009 for not meeting the employment requirements set by the city council.

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546; http://twitter.com/col_health;http://facebook.com/reporterharshman;marissa.harshman@columbian.com.