By Zach Osowski
The Herald Bulletin
---- — INDIANAPOLIS — The former owner of Anderson Dental Center was sentenced Monday to 24 months in federal prison for tax evasion.
Sally Metzner, 57, of Chesterfield, pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion and one count of failure to pay withholding and Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes. She also owes the government $856,000 in back taxes.
Metzner, the former owner of the center, 1537 S. Scattterfield Road in Anderson, pleaded guilty to one count of federal tax evasion and one count of willfully failing to account for over pay on federal taxes.
The federal government alleged that Metzner was stealing money from government programs like Social Security and Medicare. Assistant U.S. Attorney Winfield Ong, who prosecuted the case, also said Metzner had written off multiple personal expenses as business expenses.
Metzner was ordered to pay $856,000 from the U.S. government in addition to the jail time.
Metzner had served first as co-owner and then owner of the center since the original owner, Dr. Gerald Funderburk, died in 2001, according to records.
Reading a statement in court Monday, Metzner said the dental center had not been doing well financially. That, coupled with problems in her personal life, led to her failing to pay taxes on time. She said the payments snowballed out of control.
"I learned a valuable lesson," Metzner said. "I put the IRS on the back burner. And for that I am sorry."
Metzner's attorney, Dan Whitehead, of Anderson, asked the judge for a limited sentence for his client considering her age and limited criminal history. Metzner was convicted of a driving under the influence charge in 2004.
Whitehead said his client had genuine remorse for what she had done and wanted to get her life back on track.
Judge Tanya Pratt ordered Metzner to 24 months in prison. Pratt said the sentence could have been up to 30 months for each count.
After the hearing, Whitehead said he was pleased with the sentence, adding, "Frankly her ability to pay restitution relies on her getting back to doing something."
Metzner was released from federal custody Monday to await assignment to a federal women's prison.
In addition to the prison time, Metzner will have three years of supervised release after she serves her sentence. During that probation period, she will be forbidden from owning or operating a business or performing bookkeeping work.
Pratt said Metzner had a history of preparing taxes so she knew exactly what she was doing when she decided not to pay the IRS what was due.
"The defendant appears to be very untrustworthy," Pratt said. "We can't have people stealing money from Social Security."
Outside of the tax evasion case, Metzner is facing 17 felony charges from the Indiana Attorney General's Office. She and eight others are charged for allegedly submitting false claims to Medicaid.
In federal court Monday, Whitehead asked for a stay on Metzner's sentence so that he and his client could start work on her defense before Metzner was taken to prison.
Pratt allowed the stay although she said she was prepared to have Metzner taken away Monday. She said Metzner would probably have four to six weeks before she had to report to a federal prison. Once the Bureau of Prisons contacts her, it will be up to Metzner to turn herself in.
Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB, or call 640-4847.