Shake-Guzzling, Pat Robertson-Suing Dallas Bodybuilder Sentenced to Federal Prison

It takes a special type of person to sue televangelist Pat Robertson over a weight loss shake and say things to a reporter like "Me and Robertson are coming in a head-on crash," and "This ain't no goddamn game. He wants to come after me? Bring it fuckin' on." It takes an equally special person to report donating $700,000 to a bogus anti-cancer charity so you can cheat on your taxes. Also special is a person who would call DFW Airport and inform the operator "there is a bomb in every terminal in the airport," then give the name of the IRS employee investigating you for tax evasion. And it takes an extra special person to do all three, as 47-year-old Philip Francis Busch has done. One has to be very special indeed.

Busch's smackdown with Robertson was chronicled by the Observer in 2006. It gets a bit convoluted, but to summarize, Busch lost 178 pounds by drinking a weight loss shake from a recipe distributed free by Robertson, then went on to top-10 finishes in the 2004 Mr. Natural Olympia and Mr. Natural Universe bodybuilding competitions. When he found out that Robertson was selling the same shake on the side and was, in a way, using Busch's image to do so, he wanted a piece of the action. The suit was eventually dismissed, as were suits against the San Francisco Chronicle reporters who broke the Balco steroids story and Jon Stewart and The Daily Show

In February 2009, apparently in need of cash, he and his wife, Tamara Whitman, began filing fraudulent returns with the IRS to receive refunds. In one case, Busch claimed he had donated $700,000 to "Kids Against Cancer," which doesn't exist, receiving a refund that year of $180,000.

It didn't take long for the IRS to wise up to the scheme -- it doesn't take a tax lawyer to look down a list of 501(c)3s and figure out "Kids Without Cancer" is not on it -- and began investigating. Busch didn't like being investigated for tax fraud, so he decided that, upon arriving in Miami after a flight from Dallas, he would call in a bomb threat to DFW and identified himself as Stephen Noll, the IRS agent who was investigating him. Rather than using a pay phone like a movie criminal might, Busch used his wife's cell phone, which he had in his possession when police arrested him in Miami a week later.

Whitman was sentenced last year to a year and a day in federal prison and required to pay $188,300. Busch, who pleaded guilty to four counts of filing false claims in March, was sentenced this afternoon to 33 months in federal prison, two years of supervised release and required to pay $188,348 in restitution.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson