WASHINGTON - Edward B. Bartoli, a Clearwater, Fla., resident and former attorney, was sentenced to 10 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Charles R. Norgle of Chicago, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today.
Bartoli is the last of six defendants to be sentenced after they were convicted of various tax crimes in May 2008. Prior to his conviction, Bartoli was a founder of Aegis and its legal director. Bartoli and his co-defendants were found to have carried out a nearly decade-long scheme to market and sell sham domestic and foreign trusts through the Aegis Company to some 650 wealthy taxpayer clients.
According to court documents and evidence introduced at trial, the tax fraud scheme used a network of promoters, sub-promoters, managers, attorneys and accountants and resulted in a $60 million dollar tax loss to the United States. Aegis, which is now defunct, was formerly based in Palos Hills, Ill.
In addition to 10 years in prison, Judge Norgle sentenced Bartoli to 3 years of supervised release. In addition to the tax fraud conspiracy, Bartoli was found guilty of and sentenced on twenty-four counts of aiding and assisting in the filing of false returns, four counts of tax evasion, seven counts of mail fraud, and two counts of wire fraud.
Bartoli and his five co-defendants were convicted following an 11-week trial. The defendants were indicted in 2004, following a lengthy undercover investigation by IRS agents, code-named "Operation Trust Me," and the seizure of roughly 1.5 million documents, computer files and related materials. Nationwide, the Chicago-based investigation has resulted in convictions of more than 30 defendants and charges against approximately 30 other defendants around the country, including in Florida, Illinois, New York, Ohio and West Virginia.
Five of Bartoli’s co-defendants already have been sentenced by Judge Norgle. Michael A. Vallone, of Orlando Park, Ill., was sentenced to 18 ½ years in prison in October 2008. Vallone was one of the founders and the executive director of Aegis. Also in October 2008, William S. Cover, of Naperville, Ill., a promoter and manager of Aegis trusts and the president of Sigma Resource Management Inc., which provided management services to purchasers of Aegis trusts, was sentenced to 13 years in prison and ordered to forfeit his home. Bartoli, Vallone, and Cover were also subject to an additional $4.125 million forfeiture order.
In November 2008, Michael T. Dowd, of Glenview, Ill., a promoter and manager of Aegis trusts who provided management services to purchasers of Aegis trusts through Aegis and Sigma Resource Management Inc., was sentenced to 10 years in prison. In December 2008, Timothy Shawn Dunn, a Chesterton, Ind., resident, was sentenced to 17 ½ years in prison. Dunn was a promoter and manager of Aegis trusts, who also owned and operated Moneyfacts, an investment advisory business in Highland, Ind. Also in December 2008, Gadsden, Ala. resident Robert W. Hopper, was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison. Hopper was an original founder of Aegis and its managing director.
Two other defendants in this case, David E. Parker, of Williamsville, N.Y., an attorney who was the legal director of the Aegis Management Company, and John C. Stambulis of Palos Heights, an attorney and a trust counsel of Aegis, both pleaded guilty and testified for the government at trial. They also are awaiting sentencing.
"Today’s sentence, as well as the sentences of Mr. Bartoli’s co-defendants, sends a strong message that those individuals who evade taxes or promote fraudulent tax evasion schemes face significant consequences," said Ronald A. Cimino, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. "These penalties include substantial fines and lengthy prison sentences."
"Abusive trust schemes are a threat to our nation’s tax system," said Al Patton, Special Agent in-Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation in Chicago. "Establishing abusive trusts for the purpose of evading taxes is a crime for which promoters and investors will be prosecuted and sentenced to years of imprisonment. Today’s sentencing demonstrates the seriousness of the offenses related to these unlawful schemes."
Mr. Cimino thanked IRS-Criminal Investigation Division agents for their hard work, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen L. Heinze and Barry Rand Elden, and Tax Division trial attorney Thomas W. Flynn, who prosecuted the case.
More information about the Justice Department’s Tax Division and its enforcement efforts is available at www.usdoj.gov/tax .