IRS Busts Another Ref

Another NBA referee was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges he downgraded first-class airline tickets purchased by the league and pocketed the difference without telling the Internal Revenue Service.

Blane Reichelt, an 18-year veteran with the NBA, was indicted Thursday. So far, eight other referees nationwide have been implicated in the airline-ticket scheme.

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The two-count indictment alleged that Reichelt downgraded tickets and also purchased inexpensive coach tickets for travel. He then allegedly submitted bogus receipts for first-class tickets to the NBA.

Reichelt, who lives in Melbourne, Fla., filed false tax forms from 1989 to 1994 and failed to show thousands of dollars worth of income from trading in tickets, according to the indictment.

In 1989, records showed he failed to report $13,680 in taxable income.

This summer, NBA referees George Toliver, Jess Kersey, Hank Armstrong and Mike Mathis pleaded guilty to tax evasion. All four lost their jobs.

In June, Joe Crawford resigned. His attorney said he would admit his responsibility in failing to report the fringe benefit income.

Two other referees have been charged in the Northern District of Georgia. There were 53 officials working in the NBA inn the 1997-98 season.

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