United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
FORMER MOORESVILLE BUSINESS OWNERS SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR TAX FRAUD Defendants Duane and Eileen Hamelink Previously Pleaded Guilty to Tax Violations CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Duane Hamelink, 68, and his wife, Eileen Hamelink, 66, formerly of Mooresville, NC, were sentenced today to 27 months and 21 months in federal prison respectively, to be followed by a three years of supervised release for each, announced the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. In addition, Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr. ordered the Hamelinks to pay restitution in the amount of $1,086,815 to the Internal Revenue Service.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is joined in making today’s announcement by Kay B. Jernigan, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI). According to the indictment, filed court documents and statements made during court proceedings, from about 1992 to about 2005, Duane and Eileen Hamelink owned and operated a successful trim carpentry business in Mooresville, NC. The Hamelinks failed to file income tax returns despite earning substantial income. Moreover, despite being aware of the IRS’s inquiries into their tax liabilities, the Hamelinks took numerous steps to conceal their income and assets from the IRS. For example, the Hamelinks obtained several sham trusts and related nominee bank accounts to conceal their ownership of their trim carpentry business. According to court documents, the Hamelinks used one of the nominee bank accounts to deposit over $622,635 in business income and used other nominee accounts to issue checks to cash totaling $274,635, further obscuring their income from the IRS. In addition, the Hamelinks used a sham trust to obtain a foreign bank account in Cyprus and transferred approximately $285,327 of income into the account over a three year time period. The Hamelinks also concealed approximately $654,344 derived from the sale of their home using a series of false liens, bogus trusts, and a foreign bank account.
Both defendants pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud the IRS in connection with their scheme to evade over $1 million of income taxes. Duane Hamelink entered his guilty plea on April 6, 2011, and Eileen Hamelink entered her guilty plea on March 25, 2011. In a sentencing hearing also conducted today, Judge Conrad sentenced defendant Chris Hughes, 42, of Charlotte, to 6 months in prison and 6 months of home confinement for obstructing and impeding the IRS criminal investigation of Duane and Eileen Hamelink. Hughes pled guilty to that charge on December 3, 2010. According to court records, in 2005, Chris Hughes engaged in a real estate transaction with Duane and Eileen Hamelink and the proceeds of the transaction, approximately $655,100, were directed to an offshore bank account at First Curacao International Bank. In August 2006, Chris Hughes provided false statements to IRS Special Agents conducting a criminal investigation of Duane and Eileen Hamlink’s tax evasion scheme concerning facts related to the real estate transaction. Brian Hamelink, 42, of Charlotte, also pled guilty to obstructing and impeding the IRS criminal investigation of his parents Duane and Eileen Hamelink and is awaiting sentencing. “Tax evasion is not simply a crime against the government,” the United States Attorney’s Office stated. “It is a crime which forces the honest taxpayers to pay more than their fair share of the financial responsibilities that living in this country requires. The Hamelinks lived better than many citizens, in part, because of the money they stole from the United States by evading more than $1 million in federal and state income taxes. They are now paying the price for their criminal conduct by spending time in a federal prison.” “As for Mr. Hughes,” the United States Attorney’s Office noted, “the lesson here is that obstructing federal investigations by lying to the agents also comes with a price. Mr. Hughes had the opportunity to do the right thing when he was interviewed about his knowledge of the Hamelinks’ tax evasion and his false statements substantially interfered with the Government’s investigation. The sentence imposed today should serve as a reminder of the Supreme Court’s admonition that the each citizen has an obligation to provide truthful information about criminal activities when questioned.” “Today’s sentencings show that taxpayers who fail to comply with their federal tax obligations will pay a heavy price,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Jernigan. “Duane Hamelink and Eileen Hamelink have been branded convicted felons for the rest of their lives and will have to pay back all of the taxes plus interest and steep penalties.” Jernigan added, “Chris Hughes’ sentence should serve as a reminder that obstructing and impeding an IRS criminal investigation is a federal crime and it will be prosecuted as such.”
Defendants Duane and Eileen Hamelink have been in local federal custody since May 2010. Upon designation of a federal facility they will be transferred into custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Chris Hughes, who has been released on bond since December 2010, will also report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a facility. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole. The case was investigated by IRS-CI, and the prosecution for the government was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark T. Odulio and Jenny G. Sugar of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.