Tobyhanna pastor's tax cheating detailed

Dennis Bloom is no angel, U.S. attorney tells court

Pocono Record Writer, Pennsylvania/September 18, 2013

By Jenna Ebersole

The Rev. Dennis Bloom abused the trust of his community to embezzle from his own Tobyhanna church and then tried to cover his tracks, U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith argues in court papers.

Smith hit back after a filing by Bloom's attorney sought probation instead of prison for Bloom on the basis of his good deeds and community standing.

Bloom pleaded guilty to federal tax fraud in June, but Smith's filing makes public for the first time details on which the charges are based.

Bloom also founded the Pocono Mountain Charter School in 2003, which continues to fight for survival in state court. The school leases space from the Shawnee Tabernacle Church, and Bloom acted as its CEO for several years. A state appeals board stripped the school of its charter this summer, citing entanglement between the church and school.

Bloom has been accused of a litany of misdeeds related to the school. But Smith says in his filing that Bloom evaded taxes for benefits he received from the Shawnee Tabernacle Church, and makes no mention of the school.

Smith cites a presentence report that outlines Bloom's actions.

Two instances

On Dec. 29, 2006, Bloom caused the church to transfer a 10-acre parcel of land next to the church, valued at $180,000, to him and his wife, the filing says. Bloom did not pay the church for the land or report it on his tax return, evading about $74,000 in 2006 taxes.

In a second benefit, the church paid contractors nearly $150,000 to construct a "lavish personal residence" in 2008, which Bloom did not disclose on his return once again, Smith says. Thus, Bloom evaded about $51,500 in taxes for 2008, according to court papers.

Bloom's crime "was serious and took advantage of the trust placed in him by the parishioners of (Shawnee Tabernacle Church)," the filing says.

While he knew the government was investigating the allegations, Bloom contacted the church's bookkeeper "and requested that she destroy some financial records in an attempt to obstruct the investigation," the filing says, citing the presentence report.

Bloom is not facing charges of obstruction of justice but "this circumstance does not negate the fact that defendant sought to derail the investigation," the filing says.

The motive was greed

In requesting probation instead of prison time, Bloom's attorney cited his work as a police officer with the Port Authority of New Jersey and New York and other community service. But Smith says that unlike many offenders, Bloom has a stable family and higher education.

"He was not forced into a criminal act due to the circumstances of his upbringing or environment. Nor was defendant forced to act out of financial necessity," Smith argues. "His crime was motivated by greed, pure and simple."

Bloom's attorney also provided a statement from his wife, who explained that Bloom plays a central role in the life of his grandchild.

"There is no doubt that whatever sentence defendant receives will have consequences upon his family," Smith says. "However, the sad fact is that this is true for many defendants and is the unfortunate result of the choices the defendant made."

Smith says Bloom "utilized his position with STC to embezzle funds."

"He put his own self-interest ahead of that of his parishioners," the filing says. "The harm is not just measured in the value of money and property gained or lost but in the erosion of trust."

The filing notes that Bloom continues to serve as the church's pastor.

"Hopefully, members of the church will view defendant's future actions with greater scrutiny," it says.

Smith says the sentencing guideline's range of 10-16 months is appropriate, as Bloom's actions were not isolated. He evaded taxes in 2006 and 2008, Smith says.

An order setting the date of Bloom's sentencing has not been filed, but he is expected to face sentencing in the next few weeks.

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