After Further Review, the Penalty Stands

November 4th, 2010

Fall has officially arrived, at least according to the calendar, and most of us have settled into our fall routines. School is back in session, baseball fans are gearing up for playoffs, and the National Football League’s gridiron gladiators are beating each other up on Sundays, Mondays, and occasional Thursdays.

Pro footballers enjoy high profiles in society, so they tend to make headlines when they misbehave. (Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown has apparently made a specialty of hiring miscreants, with at least a half-dozen accused or convicted offenders currently wearing his team’s jersey.) So it’s no surprise that former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Joe Bruner made headlines last week as he was sentenced for battery. The real surprise here is just who Bruner assaulted — namely, his accountant!

Bruner joined the Chiefs in 1976 after playing quarterback for Northeast Louisiana State University. After his pro career ended, he wound up back in his childhood home of northwest Florida, where he eventually wound up owning a local waterpark called Big Kahuna’s in Destin. While Bruner may have delighted his customers, he apparently didn’t delight the accountants who helped him manage his business.

Bruner’s accountant, Wayne Montgomery, testified that Bruner punched him in the eye, pushed him face down into a recliner, and hit him repeatedly in the head, neck, and back at a meeting at Bruner’s house last July. Bruner was apparently “upset” with the size of his refund, and accused Montgomery of working for a previous accounting firm that Bruner was suing at the time. Months later, Montgomery reported Bruner calling him at 4:38am and threatening him with the following words: “Battery, battery, battery. You just think battery. Next whipping I’m giving you real battery. I’m going to destroy you and your property in Alabama and Tennessee.”

Bruner was convicted of felony battery in August, but acquitted of retaliating against a witness. (Sort of like confessing “I shot the sheriff — but I did not shoot the deputy, oh no . . . .”) Unfortunately for Bruner, this wasn’t the first time he fought the law — and this time, the law won. Circuit Court Judge John Brown cited five previous incidents where Bruner faced violence-related charges, then sentenced Bruner to 11 months and 29 days in Okaloosa County Jail. Brown also ordered Bruner to take anger management classes, submit to drug and alcohol tests, give up any weapons in his possession, and avoid contact with his former accountant.

The obvious lesson here is that hitting your accountant won’t get you more money from the IRS! The less obvious lesson, of course, is that if Bruner had the right proactive plan to save taxes, he would have been happier with his refund in the first place — and therefore wouldn’t have lost his temper with his accountant. So call us when you’re ready for your plan, and you won’t have to risk doing time to minimize your taxes!

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