Federal authorities say a prominent Tarpon Springs couple who contributed to a litany of civic and private improvements to the area simultaneously dodged millions in income taxes.
In a case investigators say is among the largest in the Tampa area, the 57-year-old man and his wife allegedly established a series of sham trusts and alter egos among which they ferreted away large sums of money. The scheme enabled them to avoid paying over $8.8 million in employment and income taxes, say the federal investigators.
The husband has had run-ins with the government over financial issues stretching back over three decades. According to records, he served three years in federal prison for embezzlement, followed by a 1990 no-contest plea to writing bad checks.
In the instant case, he is accused of placing his assets in businesses operated in the name of his wife. Businesses were owned by other businesses, and, when the IRS was eventually able to track a portion of the alleged tax evasion back to him, he created a trust purporting to be for the benefit of his children, pouring his assets into it and away from creditors.
Though the trust was not managed by him on paper, investigators say he retained complete control of the assets within it, paying himself up to $14,000 per month from the trust.
He is also alleged to have engaged in a shell game with real estate in Tarpon Springs on which he had built a private school. The property, owned on paper by the trust, housed the school that closed in 2012 while still allegedly owing employment taxes. Investigators say he attempted to sell the property to an entity beyond the reach of the IRS in order to avoid it being forfeited to them to satisfy the school’s outstanding tax debt.
The federal government filed a civil complaint against the couple earlier this month. At present, the couple’s assets are frozen while authorities continue to investigate.
The Law Offices of Bjorn Brunvand have been representing people charged with capital murder, felony drug charges, drunk driving, government fraud, and white-collar crimes for over a quarter century. Contact our office today to discuss your Tampa Bay-area state or federal charges.