Monday, May 29, 2014
HONOLULU – U.S. District Court Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi today sentenced Dennis Duban, a Los Angeles-based accountant and tax return preparer, to 24 months imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and assisting in the filing of a false federal income tax return before in Honolulu, Hawaii. She also ordered Duban to pay a fine of $30,000 and perform 600 hours of community service. Duban pled guilty to those offenses in October 2012.
Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, and Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney Genral for the Tax Division of the Department of Justice, said that according to information produced in court:
- Duban was a Certified Public Accountant who ran an accounting firm called Duban Sattler and Associates, LLP (formerly Duban Accountancy, LLP), in Los Angeles, California. Duban provided accounting and tax planning services to Hawaii residents Charles Alan Pflueger, James Pflueger, and some of the Hawaii-based entities they controlled, including Pflueger, Inc. and Pflueger Properties.
- Beginning as early as 2003, Duban knew that personal expenses of Pflueger, Inc. owner Charles Alan Pflueger were being paid for by Pflueger, Inc. and illegally deducted on corporate income tax returns as business expenses. Duban also knew that some personal expenses of another co-defendant were being paid for and illegally deducted by Pflueger, Inc.
- In preparing tax returns for Charles Alan Pflueger and another co-defendant from at least 2003 to 2006, Duban did not include as additional items of income all personal expenses of which he was aware were paid for by Pflueger, Inc. and constituted income to the taxpayers.
- In connection with the 2007 sale of Hacienda, a San Diego, California investment property owned by Pflueger Properties, Duban agreed with another co-defendant to file a false Pflueger Properties 2007 partnership income tax return and false individual income tax return which falsely reported the gain on the sale of the property, which sold for $27,500,000. In particular, Duban reported the basis of Hacienda as approximately $7 million higher than its actual basis.
- Prior to the sale of the Hacienda property, Duban and others assisted the same co-defendant in creating a nominee Cook Islands trust and opening a bank account at Wegelin Bank in Switzerland in the name “Southpac Trustee International, Inc., as Trustee of the Vista Pacifica Trust.” Proceeds of the Hacienda sale, over $14 million, were sent to the Wegelin account. Duban and a New York-based firm served as investment managers for the account. Duban and the co-defendant did not timely report the co-defendant’s beneficial interest in the Swiss account on Schedule B of a Form 1040 individual income tax return or by filing a Report of Foreign Bank Account (“FBAR”).
- Duban had an interest in other foreign bank accounts that he failed to properly report to the government. For at least 2006 and 2007, Duban failed to report his interest in at least one New Zealand account, held in the name of Lookout Point Limited, on Schedule B of his individual income tax returns or by filing an FBAR.
Three of Duban’s codefendants, Alan Pflueger, Randall Kurata, and Julie Kam previously pleaded guilty. Alan Pflueger pleaded guilty to willfully filing his own false 2005 Form 1040. In his plea agreement he admitted that from 2003 through 2005, personal expenses were paid for on his behalf by Pflueger, Inc., and Pacific Auto Distributors, LLC, another entity he owned, and his personal tax returns did not report these personal expenses as income. Randall Kurata, CFO of Pflueger, Inc., pleaded guilty to willfully filing a false 2003 Form 1120, U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return, for Pflueger, Inc., which improperly deducted as business expenses significant personal expenses of Alan Pflueger. Julie Kam, Alan Pflueger’s executive assistant, pleaded guilty to willfully filing her own 2004 Form 1040, which did not report personal expenses paid to her through Pacific Auto Distributors. Judge Kobayashi sentenced Alan Pflueger to 15 months’ imprisonment, while Randall Kurata and Julie Kam were both sentenced to terms of probation.
The indictment resulted from an investigation conducted by IRS - Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Leslie E. Osborne, Jr. and Tax Division Trial Attorneys Timothy J. Stockwell and Dennis R. Kihm, handled the prosecution.