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      Cromartie pleads guilty to tax evasion

      Former councilman E.W. Cromartie outside the federal court building.

      E.W. Cromartie pled guilty in federal court Monday.

      The former District 2 councilman charged with one count of income tax evasion and two counts of aggravated structuring.

      According to prosecutors, cromartie reported owing the IRS more than $25,000 for the 2004 tax year, but then failed to pay.

      The pattern continued as Cromartie ignored IRS collection efforts for several years, bringing the total tax losses to the government up to $58,000.

      Cromartie also admitted structuring bank deposits and withdrawals to avoid federal reporting requirements.

      Family and friends attended Monday's hearing in support of Cromartie.

      "He's not the only person that has not responded to the IRS," said Columbia attorney and friend of Cromartie Franchot Brown.

      "Sometime we let our guard down," says Columbia City Councilman Sam Davis, "and I think that's basically what happened here."

      Cromartie admitted in court that he knowingly and willfully engaged in tax evasion.

      Prosecutors say the lawyer and business owner failed to pay $10,000 in employment taxes from his law firm and $22,000 from his liquor store.

      "He evaded payments when IRS agents sent notices to him, asked him to get on a payment plan and sent summons, but he ignored them," said U.S. Assistant Prosecutor Mark Moore.

      Cromartie will be sentenced later this summer and will serve a year, plus one day behind bars if he cooperates fully with prosecutors.