New Jersey Plastic Surgeon Sentenced To Prison For Evading Taxes

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 16, 2017

Morris County, New Jersey, Plastic Surgeon Sentenced To Three Years In Prison For Evading Taxes On More Than $5 Million In Income

NEWARK, N.J. – A plastic surgeon with a practice in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for fraudulently diverting millions in corporate earnings for his personal use, costing the United States nearly $3 million in tax revenue between 2006 and 2010, U.S Attorney Paul Fishman announced.

David Evdokimow, 56, of Harding Township, New Jersey, was previously convicted of all eight counts of a superseding indictment charging him with one count of conspiring to defraud the United States, four counts of personal income tax evasion and three counts of corporate tax evasion. He was convicted following three-week trial before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman, who imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.

According to the superseding indictment and evidence at trial:

Evdokimow ran his medical practice through a corporation called De’Omilia Plastic Surgery P.C. (De’Omilia). He conspired with others to conceal millions of dollars of taxable income from the IRS by forming shell corporations and then having trusted associates open bank accounts for those corporations. Evdokimow then convinced these associates to give him their signatures or signature stamps so that he had full access to the shell company bank accounts while at the same time being able to conceal his connection to those accounts. He and the other conspirators then funneled millions of dollars in De’Omilia income into the bank accounts of the shell corporations and falsely claimed that these transfers were legitimate business expenses. Evdokimow also used bank accounts in the name of De’Omilia to pay his personal expenses, and falsely claimed those were business expenses too.

Evdokimow used the shell corporation and De’Omilia bank accounts to pay for more than $5.8 million in personal expenses, including designer apparel, jewelry, vacations, artwork, and multiple residences, all of which he falsely claimed as business expenses.

Evdokimow also opened accounts at several banks in order to cash checks received directly from patients for professional medical services. Between 2009 and 2011, Evdokimow cashed more than $360,000 in checks from patients, which he failed to report on his federal income tax returns.

Evdokimow was convicted of concealing more than $5.8 million in income from tax years 2006 to 2010. By concealing this income, Evdokimow evaded paying almost $3 million in taxes during that period.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Hillman sentenced Evdokimow to one year of supervised release and fined $96,000. He previously paid the taxes owed.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul Murphy and Justin Herring of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Former Idaho Construction Company President Sentenced to Prison for Fraud Scheme

The former president and majority stockholder of a construction company was sentenced to five years in prison today following her plea of guilty to filing a false tax return and her conviction by a jury of conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, mail fraud, false statements, interstate transportation of property taken by fraud, conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson for the District of Idaho.

Elaine Martin, 69, of Meridian, Idaho, was the president of MarCon Inc., a construction company based in Meridian.  In September 2013, after a 26-day jury trial, Martin was convicted of tax and fraud charges and sentenced to 84 months in prison.  In August 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated Martin’s sentence and her tax conviction and remanded for resentencing and further proceedings on the tax charge.  Today, Martin pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return and U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the District of Idaho sentenced her to 60 months in prison on both the tax and fraud charges.  In addition to the prison term, Judge Winmill ordered Martin to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Idaho Department of Transportation in the amount of $131,400.48, costs of prosecution in the amount of $22,859.60 and a forfeiture money judgment of $3,084,038.05, amounts Martin previously paid.

In the plea agreement, Martin admitted that she willfully signed false and fraudulent corporate income tax returns for Marcon Inc. for tax years 2005 and 2006.  Martin also admitted that she caused these tax returns to be false and fraudulent by keeping the unreported income off of the books and that she falsely told an IRS revenue agent, who was conducting a civil audit of Marcon, that all of Marcon’s gross receipts were deposited into its Wells Fargo operating account, when in fact, Martin was diverting and depositing gross receipts into Marcon’s Bank of Cascades account.  Martin withheld the records for Marcon’s Bank of Cascades from the individual who prepared her and Marcon’s tax returns for tax years 2005 and 2006.  Martin admitted that the total tax loss was $73,678.

Martin also admitted to conspiring to defraud the SBA 8(a) Program and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program, by submitting fraudulent tax returns and making false statements concerning her finances that caused Marcon to qualify and/or remain eligible for these programs.  Martin further admitted that her behavior affected the award of contracts pursuant to the 8(a) Program and DBE Programs.  For example, Marcon’s status as an Idaho DBE affected how and what DBE goals were set for particular construction projects and helped Marcon maintain a virtual monopoly in its geographic region between 2000 and 2006.  Marcon participated in the SBA 8(a) Program pursuant to direct negotiations with the awarding agency, rather than through fair and open competition.  Martin admitted that during the relevant time period, she would not have been awarded the 33 contracts at issue in the case but for the fraud.

As part of the plea agreement that Martin entered into today, she waived her right to further appeal.

Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Olson thanked special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, the FBI, the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation, who investigated the case and Trial Attorney Gregory Bernstein and former Trial Attorney Katherine Wong of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Patrico of the District of Idaho, who prosecuted the case.

Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud.  Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations.  Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants.  For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.

Federal Government Contractor Pleads Guilty to Accepting Kickbacks and Tax Evasion

An Enterprise, Alabama, resident pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to accepting unlawful kickbacks and tax evasion, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

According to court documents and statements made in open court, Victor Villalobos, 47, worked for a federal prime contractor at Fort Rucker in Alabama.  In 2009, Villalobos approached a subcontractor for this company and solicited illegal kickbacks on the federal subcontracts the subcontractor held in connection with the federal prime contractor.  Villalobos agreed that in exchange for kickback payments he would refrain from conduct that would unfavorably affect the subcontractor’s business relationship with the federal prime contractor and help ensure that the subcontractor obtained additional business.

As part of his plea, Villalobos admitted that from June 2009 to December 2014, he received approximately 57 separate wire transfers totaling more than $1.9 million in kickback payments from various foreign and domestic bank accounts controlled by the subcontractor.  At two separate meetings in 2015, Villalobos met with the subcontractor and accepted an envelope containing $5,000 in cash and a bag containing $55,000 in cash as kickback payments.  Between June 2009 and February 2015, Villalobos attempted to conceal his receipt of the kickbacks by incorporating nominee entities and opening nominee bank accounts.  Villalobos also admitted that he attempted to evade income taxes on the kickback payments by causing false federal income tax returns to be filed.

Villalobos faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for accepting the kickbacks and a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for tax evasion.  He could also be fined up to $500,000 or twice the gain from his crimes.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations and the Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General, who investigated this case, and Trial Attorneys Charles M. Edgar Jr. and Jason H. Poole of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting this case.  Ciraolo also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Florida for their substantial assistance.

Retired Air Force Master Sergeant Pleads Guilty to Disclosing Confidential Bid Information for Government Contracts and Tax Fraud

A retired U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to unlawfully disclosing confidential procurement information and filing a false tax return, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

Trevor Smith retired from the U.S. Air Force in December 2012, according to court documents and statements made in open court.  From February 2009 through February 2010, Smith was deployed to Afghanistan, where he served as Supply Non-Commissioned Officer-In-Charge for the Operation Enduring Freedom/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan NATO Training Mission.  In that capacity, Smith met a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based government contractor and agreed to disclose confidential bid information on government contracts to the contractor in exchange for bribe payments.  Smith and the contractor agreed that Smith would receive two percent of all revenues on contracts that the contractor received as a result of Smith’s assistance.

In January 2010, the contractor wired $42,853.29 to Smith.  The two agreed to wait until Smith returned to the United States for more payments.  After returning to the United States, Smith set up a shell corporation called T Star Air Inc. to receive 23 additional payments totaling $220,600.  Smith also created and submitted phony invoices to conceal the scheme.  For tax years 2010 through 2012, Smith filed corporate tax returns for T Star Air that falsely claimed inflated expenses and deductions.

At his Jan. 5, 2016 sentencing, Smith faces a statutory maximum penalty of five years in prison for disclosing confidential procurement information and three years in prison for filing a false tax return.  He could also be fined up to $500,000 or twice the gain from his crimes.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo commended special agents of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General, who investigated this case and Trial Attorneys Charles M. Edgar Jr. and Jason H. Poole of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting this case.  Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Florida for their substantial assistance.

Second Former Arrow Trucking Executive Sentenced in Multi-Million Dollar Fraud Scheme

A Waxahachi, Texas, resident and former chief financial officer (CFO) of Arrow Trucking Company was sentenced today to serve 35 months in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and to defraud the United States, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U. S. Attorney Danny C. Williams Sr. of the Northern District of Oklahoma.

Jonathan Leland Moore, 38, pleaded guilty on Dec. 4, 2014, to an information charging him with one count of a dual-object conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit bank fraud.  Moore conspired with James Douglas Pielsticker, 47, a resident of Dallas, and former CEO and president of Arrow Trucking Company, to defraud the United States by failing to account for and pay federal withholding taxes on behalf of Arrow Trucking Company and by making payments to Pielsticker outside the payroll system.

Moore cooperated with the criminal investigation, including testifying on behalf of the government during Pielsticker’s sentencing hearing last week.  On Oct. 9, Pielsticker was sentenced to serve seven and one-half years in prison and ordered to pay $21,026,682.03 in restitution for his role in the conspiracy and for attempting to evade his individual income taxes.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Gregory K. Frizzell of the Northern District of Oklahoma also sentenced Moore to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term and ordered him to pay $21,026,682.03 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Transportation Alliance Bank (TAB).

According to the plea agreement and other court records, in 2009, Moore, Pielsticker and others withheld Arrow Trucking Company employees’ federal income tax withholdings, Medicare and social security taxes, but did not report or pay over these taxes to the IRS, despite knowing that they had a duty to do so.  The conspirators paid for Pielsticker’s personal expenses with money from Arrow Trucking Company and submitted fraudulent invoices to TAB to induce the bank to pay funds to Arrow Trucking Company that were not warranted.  In total, the conspiracy caused a loss to the United States totaling more than $9.562 million.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Williams commended the special agents of the IRS-CI and FBI, who investigated this case, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey A. Gallant and Catherine Depew of the Northern District of Oklahoma and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and Tax Division Trial Attorney Charles A. O’Reilly, who prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.

Former CEO of Marketing Agency Sentenced to Prison for $2 Million Fraud and Kickback Scheme

The former CEO and president of a pharmaceutical marketing company was sentenced to three and one half years in prison for participating in a scheme to defraud the company in which he obtained more than $2 million in fraud and kickback proceeds, and for willfully failing to report that unlawful income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York.

Michael J. Mitrow Jr., 48, of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, was sentenced to serve 42 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and 200 hours of community service in each of those years.  He was also ordered to pay $83,219 in restitution to the IRS and $1,468,259.43 to Access Communications.  In January 2015, Mitrow pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of tax evasion before U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer of the Southern District of New York, who also imposed today’s sentence.

“Corporate officers who engage in fraud and kickback schemes and fail to report their illegal gains are defrauding their employers and cheating honest taxpayers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo.  “The sentence handed down today sends a strong message that these individuals will be held to account for committing offenses that were made possible by violating their fiduciary obligations.”

“Michael Mitrow defrauded the marketing agency that he led as its CEO out of over $1 million, using it to pay personal expenses including $600,000 to fly in private jets,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara.  “His fraud and his failure to report the proceeds as income resulted in a federal conviction for Mitrow.  At his sentencing today, he learned that the price of his crimes is not only repayment of the ill-gotten money but also the loss of his liberty.”

According to the indictment and superseding information previously filed in Manhattan federal court, other court filings and statements made during the proceedings in this case:

Mitrow was the CEO and president of the company from 1998 through approximately 2009.  From approximately 2008 through 2009, Mitrow defrauded the company by submitting fraudulent invoices for consulting services that were purportedly provided to the company but were, in fact, never provided.  Instead, Mitrow used the proceeds from those invoices to fund more than $600,000 in private jet travel.  Mitrow further defrauded the company by causing it to pay $415,000 in payments by the company to a relative of Mitrow and his co-defendant and brother, Matthew Mitrow, despite the representations made by the Mitrows to a private equity firm that acquired the company that the relative had severed all ties to the company. In addition, Mitrow willfully failed to report to the IRS his income from the fraudulent consulting invoices, which exceeded $600,000; $1.4 million in kickback payments he received from Creative Press and East Coast Vending, printing and direct mail marketing companies owned by co-defendant Robert Madison and located in Phoenix, in order to help grow the business through additional  printing and direct mailing contracts for Creative Press with his company; and more than $200,000 in personal purchases that Mitrow made with his corporate credit card and fraudulently coded as business expenses of the company.

Matthew Mitrow, 42, of Westfield, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return for the 2008 tax year, and was sentenced in July 2015 to serve three months in prison.  As part of his plea agreement with the government, Matthew Mitrow paid $30,822 in restitution to the IRS.

Robert Madison, 44, of Henderson, Nevada, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud in the payment of undisclosed kickbacks to the Mitrow brothers, and was sentenced in May 2015 to serve 18 months in prison and 18 months of home confinement.  As part of his plea agreement with the government, Madison will be subject to an order of restitution in an amount to be determined by the court.

Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Bharara thanked the IRS-Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, who investigated this case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Young of the Southern District of New York and Senior Litigation Counsel Nanette L. Davis of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting this case.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit is handling this case.

Schroder & Co. Bank AG Reaches Resolution under Justice Department’s Swiss Bank Program and Agrees to Pay $10.3 Million Penalty

The Department of Justice announced today that Schroder & Co. Bank AG has reached a resolution under the department’s Swiss Bank Program.

“As today’s agreement reflects, Swiss banks continue to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding bank accounts opened and maintained for U.S. individuals in the names of sham structures such as trusts, foundations and foreign corporations,” said Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Larry J. Wszalek of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division.  “The department’s prosecutors and the IRS are actively following these leads to criminally investigate and prosecute those individuals who willfully evaded or assisted in the evasion of U.S. income tax obligations.”

The Swiss Bank Program, which was announced on Aug. 29, 2013, provides a path for Swiss banks to resolve potential criminal liabilities in the United States.  Swiss banks eligible to enter the program were required to advise the department by Dec. 31, 2013, that they had reason to believe that they had committed tax-related criminal offenses in connection with undeclared U.S.-related accounts.  Banks already under criminal investigation related to their Swiss-banking activities and all individuals were expressly excluded from the program.

Under the program, banks are required to:

  • Make a complete disclosure of their cross-border activities;
  • Provide detailed information on an account-by-account basis for accounts in which U.S. taxpayers have a direct or indirect interest;
  • Cooperate in treaty requests for account information;
  • Provide detailed information as to other banks that transferred funds into secret accounts or that accepted funds when secret accounts were closed;
  • Agree to close accounts of accountholders who fail to come into compliance with U.S. reporting obligations; and
  • Pay appropriate penalties.

Swiss banks meeting all of the above requirements are eligible for a non-prosecution agreement.

According to the terms of the non-prosecution agreement signed today, Schroder Bank agrees to cooperate in any related criminal or civil proceedings, demonstrate its implementation of controls to stop misconduct involving undeclared U.S. accounts and pay penalties in return for the department’s agreement not to prosecute the bank for tax-related criminal offenses.

Schroder Bank was founded in 1967 and received its Swiss banking license in 1970.  Since 1984, Schroder Bank has had a branch in Geneva.  The bank has two wholly owned subsidiaries, Schroder Trust AG (domiciled in Geneva) and Schroder Cayman Bank & Trust Company Ltd. (domiciled in George Town, Grand Cayman).  Schroder Cayman Bank & Trust Company Ltd. provides services to clients such as the creation and support of trusts, foundations and other corporate bodies.  Both subsidiaries also acted in some cases as an account signatory for entities holding an account with the bank.  Schroder Bank is in the process of closing the operations of Schroder Trust AG and Schroder Cayman Bank & Trust Company Ltd.

Schroder Bank opened accounts for trusts and companies owned by trusts, foundations and other corporate bodies established and incorporated under the laws of the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Panama, Liechtenstein and other non-U.S. jurisdictions, where the beneficiary or beneficial owner named on the Form A was a U.S. citizen or resident.  In addition, a small number of accounts were opened for U.S. limited liability companies (LLCs) with U.S. citizens or residents as members, as well as for U.S. LLCs with non-U.S. persons as members.  Schroder Bank communicated directly with the beneficial owners of some accounts of trusts, foundations or corporate bodies, and it arranged for the issuance of credit cards to the beneficial owners of some such accounts that appear in some cases to have been used for personal expenses.

Schroder Bank also processed cash withdrawals in amounts exceeding $100,000 or the Swiss franc equivalent.  For at least three U.S.-related accounts, a series of withdrawals that in aggregate exceeded $1 million were made.  In addition, at least 26 U.S.-related accountholders received cash or checks in amounts exceeding $100,000 on closure of their accounts, including in at least three cases cash or checks in excess of $1 million.

Between 2004 and 2008, four Schroder Bank employees traveled to the U.S. in connection with the bank’s business with respect to U.S.-related accounts.  In 2008, Swiss bank UBS AG publicly announced that it was the target of a criminal investigation by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the department, and that it would be exiting and no longer accepting certain U.S. clients.  In a later deferred prosecution agreement, UBS admitted that its cross-border banking business used Swiss privacy law to aid and assist U.S. clients in opening accounts and maintaining undeclared assets and income from the IRS.  Between Aug. 1, 2008, and June 30, 2009, Schroder Bank opened eight U.S.-related accounts with funds received from UBS, which was then under investigation by the U.S. government.

Since Aug. 1, 2008, Schroder Bank had 243 U.S.-related accounts with approximately $506 million in assets under management.  Schroder Bank will pay a $10.354 million penalty.

In accordance with the terms of the Swiss Bank Program, Schroder Bank mitigated its penalty by encouraging U.S. accountholders to come into compliance with their U.S. tax and disclosure obligations.  While U.S. accountholders at Schroder Bank who have not yet declared their accounts to the IRS may still be eligible to participate in the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, the price of such disclosure has increased.

Most U.S. taxpayers who enter the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program to resolve undeclared offshore accounts will pay a penalty equal to 27.5 percent of the high value of the accounts.  On Aug. 4, 2014, the IRS increased the penalty to 50 percent if, at the time the taxpayer initiated their disclosure, either a foreign financial institution at which the taxpayer had an account or a facilitator who helped the taxpayer establish or maintain an offshore arrangement had been publicly identified as being under investigation, the recipient of a John Doe summons or cooperating with a government investigation, including the execution of a deferred prosecution agreement or non-prosecution agreement.  With today’s announcement of this non-prosecution agreement, noncompliant U.S. accountholders at Schroder Bank must now pay that 50 percent penalty to the IRS if they wish to enter the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.

“The cumulative penalties the Swiss Bank Program has generated to date are extraordinary,” said Chief Richard Weber of IRS-Criminal Investigation (CI).  “However, a significant element of the program is the highly-detailed account and transactional data that has been provided to IRS specifically for law enforcement purposes.  We will continue to use this information to vigorously pursue U.S. taxpayers who may still be trying to illegally conceal offshore accounts, ensuring we are all playing by the same rules.”

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Wszalek thanked the IRS, and in particular, IRS-CI and the IRS Large Business and International Division for their substantial assistance.  Wszalek also thanked Sean P. Beaty and Gregory S. Seador, who served as counsel on this matter, as well as Senior Counsel for International Tax Matters and Coordinator of the Swiss Bank Program Thomas J. Sawyer and Senior Litigation Counsel Nanette L. Davis of the Tax Division.

Former Alabama Jail Employee Sentenced for Stealing Identities as Part of Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

A Troy, Alabama, man was sentenced to prison today in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama for his involvement in a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr. of the Middle District of Alabama.

Devon Tucker, 31, a former jailer of the Troy Police Department at the city jail, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of aggravated identity theft.  U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade sentenced Tucker to serve 32 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered him to pay $13,162 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

According to court documents, from January 2014 to January 2015, Tucker stole the personal identification information of approximately 150 individuals who were processed into the Troy city jail.  Tucker provided those identities to his co-conspirators for the purpose of filing false federal income tax returns claiming fraudulent refunds from the U.S. Treasury.  Tucker was paid in pre-paid debit cards in the names of the identity theft victims for his involvement in the scheme.

“The Tax Division will vigorously pursue and prosecute government employees who abuse their positions by exploiting their access to personal information to victimize members of the community and steal from the U.S. Treasury,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo.

“It is always a sad day when a law enforcement officer sworn to uphold the law, takes advantage of his position for his own personal gain,” stated U.S. Attorney Beck.  “This district will continue to vigorously prosecute those who steal identities and file fraudulent tax returns, regardless of where they are employed or what position they hold.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Beck commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Trial Attorneys Gregory P. Bailey and Michael P. Hatzimichalis of the Tax Division and Assistant U. S. Attorney Jonathan Ross of the Middle District of Alabama, who prosecuted this case.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.

Justice Department Announces Swiss Bank Program Resolutions with Two More Banks

The Department of Justice announced today that SB Saanen Bank AG and Privatbank Bellerive AG have reached resolutions under the department’s Swiss Bank Program.

The Swiss Bank Program, which was announced on Aug. 29, 2013, provides a path for Swiss banks to resolve potential criminal liabilities in the United States.  Swiss banks eligible to enter the program were required to advise the department by Dec. 31, 2013, that they had reason to believe that they had committed tax-related criminal offenses in connection with undeclared U.S.-related accounts.  Banks already under criminal investigation related to their Swiss-banking activities and all individuals were expressly excluded from the program.

Under the program, banks are required to:

  • Make a complete disclosure of their cross-border activities;
  • Provide detailed information on an account-by-account basis for accounts in which U.S. taxpayers have a direct or indirect interest;
  • Cooperate in treaty requests for account information;
  • Provide detailed information as to other banks that transferred funds into secret accounts or that accepted funds when secret accounts were closed;
  • Agree to close accounts of accountholders who fail to come into compliance with U.S. reporting obligations; and
  • Pay appropriate penalties.

Swiss banks meeting all of the above requirements are eligible for a non-prosecution agreement.

According to the terms of the non-prosecution agreements signed today, each bank agrees to cooperate in any related criminal or civil proceedings, demonstrate its implementation of controls to stop misconduct involving undeclared U.S. accounts and pay penalties in return for the department’s agreement not to prosecute these banks for tax-related criminal offenses.

SB Saanen Bank AG is headquartered in Saanen, Switzerland.  It was founded in 1874 and has branches in the neighboring villages of Gstaad, Gsteig and Lauenen, as well as a retail office in Schönried.

Prior to Aug. 1, 2008, and thereafter, SB Saanen accepted accounts from U.S. taxpayers, some of whom had undeclared accounts and wished to take advantage of Swiss bank secrecy laws.  SB Saanen offered a variety of traditional Swiss banking services which could and did assist U.S. clients in concealing assets and income from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), including numbered or pseudonym accounts and holding mail at the bank.  These services helped U.S. clients to eliminate the presence of documents in the United States that associated the U.S. taxpayer’s name with the undeclared assets and income they held at SB Saanen in Switzerland.  In some instances, SB Saanen permitted accounts to be closed with large cash withdrawals, precious metals or transfers of funds to accounts held by non-U.S. persons.  SB Saanen had reason to believe that such an accountholder was taking that action to avoid detection by U.S. tax authorities.

In December 2008, SB Saanen’s board of directors decided that it should continue to manage U.S. clients and open new accounts for U.S. clients on the condition that they had a “link to our region or one of our relationship managers.”  As a result, SB Saanen opened accounts for some U.S. taxpayers who transferred accounts from other Swiss institutions that were closing such accounts.  SB Saanen knew, or had reason to know, that two of those accounts were undeclared.  SB Saanen continued to service U.S. taxpayers even though it had reason to believe that some of them were evading U.S. taxes.

An SB Saanen procedural manual, dated November 2009 and related to the directive, warned its employees to minimize U.S-related contacts with undeclared U.S. clients.  The manual required relationship managers to obtain an IRS Form W-9 for new U.S. clients and stated, with respect to existing U.S. clients, that “clients who do not want disclosure to the IRS (American tax authority) may not be contacted at all in the U.S.A. and/or other countries!  Contact is only permissible within [Switzerland].”

In 2009, SB Saanen implemented a policy with respect to foreign travel by its relationship managers.  Pursuant to that policy, travel was permitted to the United States to meet with U.S. clients so long as it was approved in advance by SB Saanen’s chief executive officer and subject to restrictions.  For example, under the policy, SB Saanen declared that “No files may be taken abroad,” relationship managers must “complete a training course,” relationship managers “may not actively acquire” new customers, there was to be “no signing of business documents” or “accepting of orders” or providing “investment advice,” and bank employees were prohibited from “handing over cash, securities, or objects.”  In 2010 and 2011, SB Saanen’s then-head of private banking, who is no longer employed by the bank, traveled to the United States to entertain U.S. clients at the U.S. Open tennis championship in Flushing Meadows, New York.

Since Aug. 1, 2008, SB Saanen maintained three U.S.-related accounts for individual U.S. taxpayers who opened the account in the name of a non-U.S. entity, such as offshore corporations or trusts.  Those three accounts comprised an aggregate value of approximately $5 million.  SB Saanen was not involved in creating these entities, but it was aware that some U.S. clients created and used such non-U.S. entities to hold Swiss bank accounts to avoid their disclosure to, or otherwise be concealed from, U.S. tax authorities.

The undeclared U.S.-related accounts maintained at SB Saanen include one instance in 2011 where SB Saanen assisted a U.S. taxpayer-client in the transfer of securities from his undeclared account to that of a Jersey company with a non-U.S. person as its beneficial owner.  SB Saanen allowed the transfer of funds even though the Jersey corporation had not completed all required bank documents.  In January and March 2012, the U.S. accountholder closed his account and transferred an additional $4.3 million to an account at SB Saanen held in the name of his wife, who was not a U.S. citizen.

Since Aug. 1, 2008, SB Saanen maintained 110 U.S.-related accounts with a maximum aggregate value of approximately $62 million.  SB Saanen will pay a penalty of $1.365 million.

Privatbank Bellerive AG was founded in 1988, and its sole office is in Zurich.  Bellerive was aware that U.S. taxpayers had a legal duty to report to the IRS and pay taxes on all of their income, including income earned in accounts that these U.S. taxpayers maintained at the bank.  Bellerive knew that it was likely that some of its U.S. customers who maintained accounts at the bank were not complying with their tax and reporting obligations under U.S. law.  In two instances, U.S. accountholders, with the assistance of their external asset managers, created Panamanian corporations and paid a fee to third parties to act as directors.  The companies’ directors were two trust companies based in Panama.  Those third parties, at the direction of the U.S. accountholder, opened a bank account at Bellerive in the name of the entity.  Bellerive made no effort to determine whether such an entity was valid for U.S. tax purposes.  In those circumstances involving a non-U.S. entity, Bellerive was aware that a U.S. person was the true beneficial owner of the account.

Prior to Nov. 1, 2000, Bellerive required individuals subject to federal income tax under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and who were beneficial owners of accounts to sign a “Form 1,” titled “W-9 Custodian Waiver.”  The “Form 1” contained two statements from which the beneficial owner could choose one option.  The first of the two options stated: “I would like to avoid disclosure of my identity to the U.S. tax authorities under the new tax regulations.  To this end, I declare that I expressly agree that my account shall be frozen for all new investments in U.S. securities as from November 1, 2000.”  Bellerive knew or had reason to know that the four U.S. accountholders who signed this option were engaged in tax evasion.

An internal Bellerive memorandum dated Sept. 16, 2008, from the then-head of Legal Compliance and Risk, stated that “all Swiss banks have set up the following rules for dealing with U.S. clients:

  • Absolutely no contact as long as the client is on U.S. territory, even if the contact has been initiated by the client, including phone calls, e-mails, etc.;
  • The client may only take up contact with the bank, if he is not in the United States;
  • Assets may only be managed via a discretionary mandate, or not at all (cash on current account); and
  • No mail correspondence allowed, hold mail agreements however are permitted.”

Bellerive had hold-mail agreements with its 20 U.S.-related accountholders both before and after the date of the memorandum.

Since Aug. 1, 2008, Bellerive maintained 20 U.S.-related accounts, comprising a total of $68.9 million in assets under management.  Bellerive will pay a penalty of $57,000.

In accordance with the terms of the Swiss Bank Program, each bank mitigated its penalty by encouraging U.S. accountholders to come into compliance with their U.S. tax and disclosure obligations.  While U.S. accountholders at these banks who have not yet declared their accounts to the IRS may still be eligible to participate in the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, the price of such disclosure has increased.

Most U.S. taxpayers who enter the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program to resolve undeclared offshore accounts will pay a penalty equal to 27.5 percent of the high value of the accounts.  On Aug. 4, 2014, the IRS increased the penalty to 50 percent if, at the time the taxpayer initiated their disclosure, either a foreign financial institution at which the taxpayer had an account or a facilitator who helped the taxpayer establish or maintain an offshore arrangement had been publicly identified as being under investigation, the recipient of a John Doe summons or cooperating with a government investigation, including the execution of a deferred prosecution agreement or non-prosecution agreement.  With today’s announcement of these non-prosecution agreements, noncompliant U.S. accountholders at these banks must now pay that 50 percent penalty to the IRS if they wish to enter the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division thanked the IRS, and in particular, IRS-Criminal Investigation and the IRS Large Business and International Division for their substantial assistance.  Ciraolo also thanked Thomas J. Sawyer and Michael N. Wilcove, who served as counsel on these matters, as well as Senior Litigation Counsel Nanette L. Davis of the Tax Division.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.

After Nearly 20 Years, International Fugitive in Multi-Million Dollar Fraud Scheme Apprehended in Greece and Extradited to United States to Serve Prison Sentence

WASHINGTON – A former New York businessman, who disappeared the same day a federal jury sitting in the U.S. District Court in Newark, New Jersey, began deliberating in his tax evasion and fraud trial, was caught while in Greece more than 18 years after his conviction, and appeared in federal court in the District of New Jersey on Friday, July 17, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

Gideon Misulovin, 58, whose last known address was in New York City, was extradited from Greece to the United States to serve his 10-year prison sentence.  He has been incarcerated in the United States since his return on July 16.

On March 7, 1996, a jury convicted Misulovin of conspiracy to impede and impair the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the ascertainment and collection of more than $6.5 million in federal motor fuel excise taxes, wire fraud and money laundering stemming from a scheme to conceal the unpaid diesel fuel excise taxes from state and federal tax authorities.

During trial, Misulovin was free on $500,000 bail and attended each day of the trial.  He failed to appear in court March 4, 1996, for the parties’ closing arguments.  U.S. Senior District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise of the District of New Jersey in Newark issued a warrant for his arrest.  On June 25, 1997, Judge Debevoise sentenced Misulovin in absentia to serve 10 years in prison and a three-year term of supervised release, and to pay a $150,000 fine.  The court also ordered Misulovin to pay restitution in the amount of $200,000 to the United States and $100,000 to the state of New Jersey.

The evidence at trial established that from 1988 through Jan. 31, 1993, Misulovin and his co-conspirators sold untaxed diesel fuel in a series of paper transactions using wholesale companies.  Some of the companies were shams and called “burn” or “butterfly” companies.  As part of the scheme, the sham company would assume the federal and state tax liability and then vanish, allowing the conspirators to keep the excise taxes they collected from truck stops and service stations.

The case, part of a then-nationwide motor fuel excise tax enforcement effort, was investigated jointly by the Motor Fuel Task Force and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of New Jersey.  In an effort to infiltrate the bootleg gasoline industry, task force agents set up an undercover business called RLJ Management that competed directly with the defendants’ operation.

At the conclusion of the undercover operation, in November 1992, federal agents seized Misulovin’s assets, including approximately $70,000 in cash from his residence and $277,000 from his business bank account.

Misulovin’s co-defendant and co-conspirator, Arnold Zeidenfeld, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty prior to trial and testified for the government.  Gurmit Singh and Manbir Singh, of Matawan, New Jersey, who operated truck stops in southern New Jersey, also pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme.

In August 2014, based on an Interpol Red Notice, Misulovin was detained in a Greek airport using an alias and traveling with an Israeli passport.  He was subsequently arrested pursuant to a U.S. request for a provisional arrest, and after contested extradition proceedings, was found extraditable in 2015.

The task force included attorneys from the Tax Division and agents from the IRS Criminal Investigation and Examination Divisions, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the New Jersey State Department of Taxation and Finance.  Seth D. Uram, formerly a Trial Attorney in the Tax Division and now an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Portland, Oregon, and Trial Attorney Charles A. O’Reilly of the Tax Division prosecuted the case.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo thanked the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the FBI’s New Jersey Field Office and the Greek Ministry of Justice for their assistance in apprehending and extraditing Misulovin.  Ciraolo also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of New Jersey for their substantial assistance.