A Hawaii businessman was convicted yesterday following an 11-day jury trial in Honolulu of one count of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct the administration of the Internal Revenue Code and six counts of filing false individual income tax returns, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Florence T. Nakakuni of the District of Hawaii.
The jury convicted Albert S.N. Hee, 61, of Kailua, Hawaii, of filing false income tax returns for tax years 2007 through 2012, and of obstructing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from 2002 through 2012. According to court documents and the evidence introduced at trial, Hee owned Waimana Enterprises Inc., a telecommunications holding company based in Honolulu. Over the course of a decade, Hee directed Waimana to pay millions of dollars in personal expenses on his behalf. He falsely deducted the payments from his corporate tax returns as if they were legitimate business expenses, and failed to report the payments as income on his individual returns.
“The jury’s verdict reflects the department’s unwavering commitment to U.S. taxpayers to aggressively pursue and prosecute individuals like Mr. Hee, who cheat the government to line their own pockets and finance their extravagant lifestyles,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo.
Hee’s lavish spending included paying more than $96,000 for personal massages; paying his wife and children full-time salaries with benefits packages, even though they performed little to no work for the company; and paying more than $736,900 in college tuition and housing for his three children. Hee also directed Waimana to pay various expenses on his personal credit card, including family trips to Walt Disney World, Tahiti, France, Switzerland, and a four-day vacation at the Mauna Lani resort on the Big Island of Hawaii, which Hee falsely characterized as a “stockholder’s meeting” and deducted as a business expense on the company’s tax return.
In 2008, Hee used company funds to purchase a home in Santa Clara, California, valued at $1.3 million. Hee told his accountants that the property would be used as an employee retreat in an attempt to disguise it as a legitimate business expense. However, Hee’s children testified at trial that from 2008 through 2012, they lived in the home while attending college in Santa Clara and did not pay rent to Waimana for their use of the property. Hee’s son testified that the house was walking distance from the college campus, and that he and his sister rented other rooms of the house to their college friends, but kept the rent that they collected from their roommates and did not give it to their father’s company.
At Hee’s scheduled Oct. 26 sentencing, he faces a statutory maximum sentence of three years in prison for each charge, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution to the IRS.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Nakakuni commended the special agents of IRS–Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Trial Attorney Quinn P. Harrington of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Les Osborne and Larry Tong of the District of Hawaii, who are prosecuting the case.