Idaho Businessman Sentenced to Prison for Income Tax Evasion
WASHINGTON – Michael George Fitzpatrick, 51, of Hope, Idaho, was sentenced to 42 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. Fitzpatrick was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release and pay just under $1.4 million in restitution to the IRS for unpaid individual and corporate federal income taxes.
Fitzpatrick was convicted of two counts of tax evasion in January 2013 by a Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, jury. A previous jury had convicted him in September 2012 on two counts of failure to file corporate income tax returns but was unable to reach verdicts on the tax evasion counts. Fitzpatrick was remanded into custody immediately after the second trial.
According to the indictment and evidence introduced at both trials, Fitzpatrick operated a business selling products which purported to help individuals eliminate credit card debt. During 2003 and 2004, gross sales from the business, operating under the names Dynamic Solutions, Inc. (DSI) and North American Educational Services, Inc. (NAES), exceeded $9 million. At trial the government proved the corporations failed to report $3.7 million and Fitzpatrick himself failed to report over $500,000 in income, resulting in a total tax loss of $1,397,762.
The evidence further established that Fitzpatrick last filed an individual income tax return in 1996. At trial, Fitzpatrick argued at length that the income tax laws did not apply to him. However, the evidence showed he expended significant time and expense to put all of his property in the names of nominees.
The evidence at trial also established Fitzpatrick sent over $5 million offshore to a bank located in the Dominican Republic. Fitzpatrick accessed this money through the use of a debit card and through wire transfers. During this two-year period Fitzpatrick used over $1 million of his money hidden offshore to buy real estate and to gamble in Las Vegas on nine separate trips to the Bellagio Casino. He also paid a contractor to build a schoolhouse for his kids in his backyard in Hope, Idaho.
“This case sends a strong message that those who defy our nation's tax laws will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division Kathryn Keneally. “The sentence imposed today demonstrates that anyone who attempts to evade taxes by hiding assets in offshore bank accounts faces significant time in prison for these crimes.”
“Paying taxes is a solemn obligation of citizenship,” said United States Attorney Wendy Olson. “Mr. Fitzpatrick’s conviction and sentence make clear that those who try to hide income or knowingly and falsely claim that the income tax laws do not apply to them will be prosecuted and ordered to pay. I commend the fine work of the Tax Division lawyers and the IRS criminal investigators in this case.”
“The license to run a business is not a license to avoid paying taxes,” said Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Chief Richard Weber. “Today, Mr. Fitzpatrick has been held accountable for his actions of dodging his legal tax responsibilities to report all his income and pay his fair share of taxes. No one should doubt that IRS is committed to pursuing people hiding income offshore.”
Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division Kathryn Keneally and U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson thanked special agents from the Boise, Idaho and Seattle, Washington offices of IRS Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Tax Division Trial Attorneys Lori A. Hendrickson, Christopher P. O’Donnell, and Erin S. Mellen, who prosecuted the case with valuable support from the United States Attorney’s Offices in Boise and Coeur d’Alene.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
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