Keeping ’Em Honest
Chad Edgar, RWU Law Class of 2004Juris DoctorAlumni
Charles “Chad” Edgar ’04 is making serious headway in the DOJ’s battle to stop identity-theft tax-refund fraud by improving enforcement and prosecution. The former U.S. Army JAG officer now prosecutes tax crimes for the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Stolen identity tax refund fraud is a multibillion-dollar problem today,” says Edgar, a CPA who has prosecuted scores cases with the DOJ’s Tax Division, many of them related to refund fraud. The IRS’s system of paying refunds, he laments, “is very susceptible to fraud and abuse.”
A few years back, Edgar and five of his colleagues from the Tax Division, who’ve collaborated to study identity theft tax refund fraud and improve enforcement and prosecution, were recognized by the DOJ for their outstanding work in combatting tax refund fraud.
“We looked at main Justice’s policies and determined that the local U.S. Attorneys should be allowed to move more quickly” than in cases where centralized review by DOJ is appropriate, he says. “These cases are different than traditional tax cases, and they should be prosecuted differently.”
A native of Braintree, Mass., Edgar graduated in 2001 from Bentley College in Waltham with a degree in accounting, intending to follow in the footsteps of his father, a CPA. But his father had also gotten a law degree late in life, and Edgar decided to pursue a J.D. at RWU Law after reading a newspaper article about it. As he was wrapping up law school in 2003, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were entering full swing, and Edgar wanted to serve his country. He was accepted into the Judge Advocate General program of the U.S. Army, did his training in Virginia, and then was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, one of the largest military installations in the world.
There he provided free general legal services for soldiers such as divorces, wills, and landlord-tenant matters, until his superiors learned he was a CPA and put him in charge of Fort Hood Tax Center.
Edgar soon found himself overseeing a 20-person staff that prepared more than 10,000 tax returns for active military and retirees in the 2006 tax season. Next, he worked as a military prosecutor for several months before deploying to Iraq in August 2006 with the 3rd Signal Brigade.
For 15 months in Iraq, as Brigade JAG, Edgar served as general counsel to the commander, advising on any legal issue that arose including rules of engagement. He also reviewed military contracts and prosecuted criminal cases, including two separate negligent homicide cases where soldiers accidentally killed comrades by mishandling their weapons. While in Iraq, Edgar applied for federal clerkships, and was hired after a telephone interview by Judge William E. Smith of the U.S. District Court in Rhode Island.
“He took a real chance on me. He hired me sight unseen, and I feel very fortunate,” says Edgar. “That opportunity, I know for sure, had a direct, domino effect on my career. It helped get me into Georgetown” – where the cost of his graduate studies was covered by a scholarship – “and then that definitely helped me get the job at DOJ.”