Kentucky doctor fined $75,000 in case involving failure to pay federal income tax

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A judge imposed a $75,000 fine on a Kentucky doctor who admitted failing to pay his income taxes.

Christopher Marek, a plastic surgeon in Danville, also was sentenced to four years on probation and is liable for $283,687 in back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.

Chief U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves sentenced Marek on Friday in Lexington.

The indictment in the case charged that Marek, 49, under-reported his income by a total of $2 million in the five tax years from 2014 through 2018.

Marek, a native of Virginia, did his residency in plastic surgery at the University of Kentucky before setting up his practice in Danville.

He pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion as part of a plea agreement.

Marek’s defense attorneys said in a sentencing memorandum that his trouble began when he read a book by a Michigan man, Peter Hendrickson, who has argued that most income is not subject to taxation.

Hendrickson was convicted in 2009 of filing false tax returns and ultimately sentenced to 27 months in federal prison.

“Like many unfortunate taxpayers before him, Dr. Marek encountered the falsehoods peddled by Peter Hendrickson . . .,” defense attorney Robert C. Webb said in the memo.

Marek came to believe “serious mistruths” about definitions in the tax code, and that’s why he failed to report income from his practice, according to the memo.

Marek sought advice from accountants who told him he needed to report the income, but didn’t follow it, according to the memo.

Physicians who have worked with Marek, as well as several patients, wrote letters of support for him, describing him as a skilled, dedicated surgeon and noting his compassion, humility and generosity.

Putting Marek in prison would deprive patients of help in a place with limited access to plastic surgery services, Webb told Reeves in seeking probation for Marek.

“He’s been an exemplary doctor,” Webb said.

The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney William P. Moynahan, argued for a 21-month sentence for Marek.

Marek’s failure to pay taxes wasn’t a mistake, but an “open revolt” against the IRS, Moynahan said.

Reeves said one factor in his decision was the impact that putting Marek behind bars would have on patients and on his ability to pay the fine and delinquent taxes.

Reeves said he believed the large fine met the goals of punishing Marek and deterring others from similar conduct.