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Indicted ex-judge Keith Bee could have trial pushed to September

A Pima County justice of the peace indicted in 2018 on three counts of filing false tax returns might not face trial until at least September.

Both sides in the case against Keith Bee, who retired two days after the Sept. 5, 2018, indictment, have asked to have the trial moved from March 9 to “on or after the week of Sept. 13.”

Attorneys for Bee said the case involves going through 86,000 pages of disclosure and requires consulting with accounting and tax experts.

Both sides also were concerned about bringing in out-of-town witnesses in March in light of the pandemic.

The request was submitted Nov. 30 and has not been ruled on.

Bee, a former state legislator who took the JP post in 2007, was indicted by a federal grand jury on three counts of filing false statements on three years' of tax returns for his business, Bee Line Bus Transportation, and on one count of attempting to impede an investigation.

Bee’s attorney, Michael Piccarreta, has said his client “was the victim of a very shoddy tax preparation and not carefully reviewing voluminous tax returns. He, like most people, when given a thick return, just signed it where he was told to sign."

Bee Line Bus Transportation has no connection to Bee Line Travel, a Green Valley business that has been in operation for more than 30 years.

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According to the indictment, Bee attempted to pass off personal expenses as business expenses on returns in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The expenses included payments for sports cars, including six Ford Mustangs, two Corvettes and a Porsche. Expense also included “construction, renovation or improvement” to residential properties in Arizona and Washington state, including a custom garage for his cars, a pool and spa, landscaping and custom window treatments and concrete work, according to a court filing.

The indictment said Bee maintained the checking accounts in the name of Bee Line Tucson and used them to pay for the personal expenses. That information was turned over to his tax preparer. He also claimed several personal vehicles as business vehicles and failed to report a $178,000 capital gain for tax year 2011, according to documents.

The IRS began auditing Bee’s returns in 2014. Bee provided vendor invoices when issued a summons, but “the documents Bee provided to the revenue agent do not match corresponding copies and information obtained from the vendors,” according to the indictment. It also said some information provided by Bee “had been removed in an effort to disguise” the payments for personal items. He also provided a loan document from Ford Motor Credit for a $65,259 Mustang GT 5.0 Roush that had incomplete information, which the court called an attempt to obstruct and impede.

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