HOW THE IRS SHADES CRIME STATISTICS

Government crime statistics show that it's relatively rare for an Internal Revenue Service agent to take a bribe. But the IRS has an interesting way of shading its statistics to make the embarassing crime even more rare.

Asked for the figures on bribe convictions of IRS agents, spokeswoman Johnell Hunter noted that there had been three in 1988, two in 1989, none in 1990 and 1991, and one this year.

But Robert Morales Sr., convicted of taking what prosecutors say is the biggest bribe in IRS history, isn't included in figures for 1991, when he was convicted.

Why?

"Because he was a non-IRS employee," Ms. Hunter says. Mr. Morales had retired by the time he was convicted.

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