March 28, 2014

Lawrence doctor who helped write a weight loss book is convicted of tax evasion

Federal prosecutors said Mary C. Vernon, who co-authored “Atkins Diabetes Revolution,” set up a separate company in an effort to evade taxes she owed.

A Lawrence physician who co-authored the popular weight loss book “Atkins Diabetes Revolution” with the late Robert Atkins was convicted Friday of five counts of tax evasion.

Federal prosecutors said Mary C. Vernon, 61, earned more than $580,000 for work she performed for Atkins Nutritionals Inc., a company that specialized in weight loss programs and products. From 2005 to 2008, they said, Vernon earned an additional $190,000 to promote Atkins’ nutritional theories.

Vernon maintained a medical practice that specialized in treating obesity. She also provided medical services and served as medical director for a number of nursing homes.

Federal tax collectors have pursued Vernon for years. From 1999 through 2007, the Internal Revenue Service fought to recover taxes, interest and penalties for taxes she allegedly failed to pay from 1991 through 2005. The government eventually collected about $2 million through levies and seizures.

Authorities said Vernon hired an attorney in 2003 to set up a company called Rockledge Medical Services in an effort to evade taxes she owed. Vernon evaded paying income taxes for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, they said.

Sentencing will take place at a later date. Vernon could face up to five years in federal prison and be ordered to pay a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.

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