SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - We have a follow up to a Tipline Investigation that we broke two weeks ago. It centers on Steven Pybrum, a felon, who was released from prison last year and now is running for Congress.
After our first story aired, some of Pybrum's clients from his local tax business called us. They say the former Santa Barbara certified public accountant who wants to represent you in Washington, D.C. has a dark side.
"I thought he was going to break my legs," said John.
John is referring to a letter he received from Pybrum and Company last September. John is not his real name. We also spoke with Kim, that's not her name either. Both agreed to tell their stories, but only if we agreed to conceal their identities.
Pybrum did their taxes for years.
"We trusted him, yea, we trusted him," said Kim.
In 2012, Kim and John learned Pybrum was headed to prison for under-reporting more than a million dollars in income. He deposited money from his CPA business, Pybrum and Company, into a bank account for a non-profit he created called Foundation for Harmony and Happiness.
The foundation supposedly helped couples avoid financial disputes. Pybrum served about two and a half years and was released from prison on July 31, 2015.
Seven weeks later, John and Kim received a letter from Pybrum's company, claiming they still owe the firm money. The letter states, "Steve may have made some new friends that will help him with collection activity if you don't pay. But why cause all that stir. You know that Steve, one way or the other, will collect."
"What's he going to do? Hunt me down? Is he going to send somebody after me?" said John.
"I felt like it was a threat. I felt like he was saying, 'If we don't pay him this money he thinks we owe him, he's going to do something to us, to my family, to my kids, my wife.'" said John. "To me, it was scary."
"I truly believe, since he was in prison, that somebody who would send a letter like this, he would act out on it." said Kim. "So, we were -- and still are -- very scared."
They called the police who took a report but that's it. And they installed security cameras around their house. Then, in February, they received a letter from an attorney threatening to sue them unless they paid Pybrum.
"I don't believe we owe him any money," said Kim. "He actually owes us money for all that we've been through."
John and Kim say they were audited by the Internal Revenue Service. They claim Pybrum messed up their taxes so badly, they've had to pay tens of thousands of dollars, and they're still paying.
"We were all guilty by default." said Kim. "And all of his clients were getting audited after he was sent to prison."
And then the icing on the cake; They received an email from Pybrum for Congress, asking for campaign contributions.
"I could not believe it," said John. "My first thought was, how can a felon run for Congress?"
"There's no way we would want him to be a Congressman for California," said Kim. "I was just blown away. No way, can this guy be a Congressman."
NewsChannel Three checked and, yes, a felon can be elected to Congress in California.
Pybrum did not return any of the phone calls or emails from NewsChannel 3 for this story. However, NewsChannel 3 talked with the California Board of Accountancy (CBA) and learned that the state is in the process of renewing Pybrum's license, but the CBA has received complaints about him. That enforcement action will go before a judge in May.