WASHINGTON - Bill Melot, a resident of Hobbs, N.M., appeared in federal court today before Magistrate Karen B. Molzen in Las Cruces, N.M., on tax and false statement charges, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced. Melot, a farmer who owns approximately 250 acres in Lea County, N.M., was charged with tax evasion, failing to file tax returns, corruptly impeding the IRS, and making false statements to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
According to the indictment, Melot owes the IRS more than $18 million in federal taxes and has not filed a personal tax return since 1986. However, Melot has collected over $225,000 in federal farm subsidies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
According to the indictment, Melot took a number of steps to conceal his ownership of the 250 acres in Lea County, including notarizing forged deeds and titling the property in the name of nominees. The indictment further alleges that Melot used false Social Security Numbers and fictitious Employer Identification Numbers to hide his assets from the IRS. The indictment further alleges that Melot provided fictitious Employer Identification Numbers to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to collect federal farm aid. Additionally, Melot maintained a bank account with Nordfinanz, a Swiss financial institution.
According to the indictment, Melot also intermittently owned and operated gas stations in Lea County and elsewhere in the United States, including two gas station in Hobbs.
If convicted on all counts, Melot faces a maximum term of 49 years in prison and a maximum fine of $2,850,000.
The case is being prosecuted by Tax Division trial attorney Jed Silversmith. The case was investigated by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General.
Additional information about the Justice Department’s Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at http://www.usdoj.gov/tax.