WASHINGTON - Micheal Fisher, a former co-owner of Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. Inc. (FSG) based in Dickinson, N.D., was sentenced to 37 months in prison today by Judge Daniel L. Hovland in Bismark, N.D., the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced. Judge Hovland also ordered Fisher to pay a $90,000 fine and to pay restitution of $308,069.
On May 29, 2009, Fisher pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding the IRS, four counts of aiding in the filing of false federal tax returns for FSG and four counts of filing false individual tax returns.
In October 2008, Amiel Schaff, FSG’s former chief financial officer, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. In May 2009, Clyde Frank, FSG’s former comptroller, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. FSG was also charged in the superseding indictment with conspiracy to defraud the United States. In May 2009, the United States reached a deferred prosecution agreement with FSG in which FSG admitted responsibility for defrauding the United States. The agreement requires FSG to pay a total of $1.16 million in restitution, penalties and fines, implement measures to prevent future fraud at the company and cooperate with the IRS in audits of its tax returns. Under that agreement, prosecution against FSG is deferred until December 2011.
According to court documents and testimony, Micheal Fisher caused FSG employees to pay for personal expenses such as construction expenses and furnishings for his personal residence and a recreation building, construction expenses for improvements to Tiger Discount, a gas station owned and controlled by Fisher, as well as household and utility bills, vacations, credit card bills and legal expenses for him and other Fisher family members. According to court documents and testimony, these payments for Fisher were never reported to the IRS, they were deducted on the FSG corporate income tax returns, and Fisher failed to report all of his income on his individual income tax returns.
In October 2009, Judge Hovland sentenced Schaff and Frank each to 12 months probation with a condition of home confinement. Judge Hovland also imposed a $1,000 fine on each co-defendant and ordered both Schaff and Frank to complete 20 hours of community service by speaking to college students about the criminal offense to which they pleaded guilty and corporate fraud in general.
"As tax filing season approaches, U.S. taxpayers should be aware of the serious consequences facing those who fail to honestly and accurately report their income to the IRS," said John A. DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. "Those who fly in the face of the tax laws face investigation, prosecution, and if convicted, significant prison sentences and substantial fines."
"IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to investigating individuals who use their corporations as personal piggy banks," said Eileen Mayer, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. "Mr. Fisher used his position of power to defraud not just his own company, but the honest, hardworking Americans that pay their tax obligations."
Acting Assistant Attorney General DiCicco thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota for their assistance in this case. He also thanked the IRS Criminal Investigation agents who investigated the case, as well as Tax Division trial attorneys Christopher S. Strauss and Michael J. Watling who prosecuted the case.