Baltimore Liquor Store Owner Pleads Guilty to Evading Taxes

Understated Over $1.5 Million of Income Earned During Four Tax Years and Structured At Least $745,000 of Bank Deposits in Attempt to Evade Taxes

March 30, 2012

Baltimore, Maryland - Chung K. Choi, age 47, of Woodbine, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to tax evasion.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Acting Special Agent in Charge Eric C. Hylton of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III of the Baltimore City Police Department.

According to his plea agreement, Choi owns and operates Frankford Garden Liquors located at 5418 Sinclair Lane in Baltimore. The corporate tax returns that Choi filed for the years 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 understated the amount of the corporation’s taxable gross receipts by $1,572,162. The government alleges that the amount of federal and states taxes due as a result of Choi’s under-reporting is $739,253.

Additionally, from March 5, 2009 to December 16, 2010, Choi routinely deposited cash into his bank accounts in individual amounts under $10,000 in order to attempt to avoid triggering the requirement that the bank report to the IRS transactions of $10,000 or more. The total amount of structured deposits was at least $745,000.

"Structuring financial transactions to avoid currency reporting requirements is a criminal violation of federal law under the Bank Secrecy Act,” said IRS Special in Charge Eric Hylton. “Deliberately avoiding BSA requirements is a form of money laundering that will be vigorously investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation."

Choi faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and $250,000 fine. U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett has scheduled sentencing for June 18, 2012.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the IRS-Criminal Investigation and Baltimore City Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Stefan D. Cassella, who is prosecuting the case.

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