Former Stillwater mayor Ken Harycki went to Minneapolis federal court Friday to find out his fate on a tax evasion conviction, but a judge postponed sentencing until November.
U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery said the delay was an “unusual practice” considering that Harycki had pleaded guilty 18 months ago. But she said she needed the extra time to decide on the sentence.
Harycki’s lawyer, Joe Friedberg, told reporters that the delay had to do with a forthcoming trial involving Harycki’s co-defendants, twin brothers Thurlee and Roylee Belfrey. He said that Harycki’s Nov. 16 sentencing will give him an opportunity to help the government’s case against the Belfreys, which might result in a reduced sentence.
Harycki’s guilty plea in January 2015 included a provision that he would give “substantial” assistance to law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of the Belfreys, who are expected to go to trial in October.
Harycki, 53, was convicted of defrauding the federal government over several years at his Stillwater accounting and payroll business, leading to a tax loss of more than $2 million.
He admitted to creating shell companies for the Belfreys’ home health care business, and he also incorporated a new company, MKH Holdings Inc., to hide money.
His crimes occurred during most of the two terms he served as the city’s mayor, although criminal charges filed against him didn’t relate to his elected position. He resigned as mayor in late 2014.
At Friday’s hearing, Montgomery told Harycki she regretted the “unpleasant interim” of him not knowing whether he was going into custody, but said justice would be served by the delay.
U.S. Attorney Robert M. Lewis had asked for a 37-month prison sentence on grounds that Harycki “has not rendered the assistance necessary” to prosecute the Belfreys.
Friedberg, in a May court filing, portrayed Harycki as a small-town accountant awed by the fact that two apparently rich Minneapolis business owners wanted his services.
“He never questioned why they showed up on his doorstep with a request that he, a Stillwater CPA and payroll manager, should be fortunate enough to get such a seeming boost to his modest and profitable business,” Friedberg wrote. “A boost to his ego. Undoubtedly oblivious to two experienced scam artists.”
Harycki hardly was duped into becoming a tax cheat, Lewis told the court. He wrote that Harycki recognized immediately “from his co-conspirators that there was a standing order that the payroll withholdings not be paid to the government but instead used for other purposes, including their own compensation, money for their family members, and to fund their other businesses and projects.”