WASHINGTON - Craig Shaber, an attorney from San Diego was arraigned today before Magistrate Judge Anthony J. Battaglia in that city on charges of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and tax evasion for years 2000 to 2002, the Justice Department and IRS announced. On Aug. 14, 2009, Steven Wright, an accountant, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler to one count of tax evasion for the 2000 tax year. Wright admitted to evading $387,000 in taxes for 2000 to 2002.
According to the indictment, the plea agreement and court documents, between 1999 and 2002, Shaber and Wright fraudulently acquired control of numerous public shell companies by, among other things, installing nominee officers and directors and submitting false registration statements and reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the National Association of Security Dealers (NASD). Shaber and Wright earned millions of dollars from the sale of these public shell companies and deposited the proceeds into bank accounts in the names of Bonaventure Capital Ltd. and one of Shaber’s client trust accounts. In 2002, Shaber and Wright received $260,000 in cash from the sale of one of these companies. In 2003, the SEC filed a complaint related to Shaber’s and Wright’s conduct selling these public shell companies.
According to, the indictment, the plea agreement and court documents, Shaber and Wright then evaded taxes on the millions of dollars earned from the sale of the public shell companies. They withdrew these proceeds for their own personal benefit and in a way that it concealed that they received income from the stock scheme. Shaber and Wright disbursed these funds to various bank accounts in the names of nominee entities that they controlled, and they used accounts in the names of nominee entities to pay for personal expenses to help conceal their receipt of this income. Some of these nominee entities held title to various assets, which helped conceal Shaber and Wright’s receipt of taxable income and their control over some of these assets.
According to the indictment and court documents, Shaber used the proceeds from the shell company scheme to purchase numerous luxury items, including his personal residence in Coronado, Calif., a McDonnell Douglas helicopter, a World War II-era Tigercat airplane, a Plymouth Prowler, a Porsche 996 Turbo and artwork. Additionally, Wright purchased significant assets, including property in Poway, Calif., a condominium in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., a BMW X5 and artwork.
Shaber is next scheduled to be in court for a status hearing before Magistrate Judge Battaglia on Aug. 27, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. If convicted on all counts, Shaber faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000,000.
Wright’s sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 9, 2009, before U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn L. Huff. Wright faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
These cases are being prosecuted by Tax Division trial attorneys Christopher Maietta and Timothy J. Stockwell, and are being investigated by the IRS, Criminal Investigation Division. Additional information about the Justice Department’s Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at http://www.usdoj.gov/tax.