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Press Release

Houston Attorney Pleads Guilty to Offshore Tax Evasion Scheme

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
Conspired to Secretly Bring to the U.S. more than $18 Million in Untaxed Money Held in Foreign Banks

A Houston Attorney pleaded guilty today to conspiring to defraud the United States.

In September 2019, a federal jury in Houston convicted Jack Stephen Pursley, also known as Steve Pursley, after a several-day trial on charges relating to an offshore tax evasion scheme, and the Court sentenced him to 24 months in prison. However, Pursley’s conviction was reversed on appeal and the case was sent back to the trial court for further proceedings. Pursley has now pleaded guilty to the conspiracy with which he was charged, as set forth in Count One of the indictment.

According to court documents and the evidence presented at the 2019 trial, Pursley conspired with a former client to repatriate more than $18 million in untaxed income that the client had earned through his company, Southeastern Shipping. Knowing that his client had never paid taxes on these funds, Pursley designed and implemented a scheme whereby the untaxed funds were transferred from Southeastern Shipping’s business bank account, located in the Isle of Man, to the United States. Pursley helped to conceal the movement of funds from the IRS by disguising the transfers as stock purchases in United States corporations owned and controlled by Pursley and his client.

At trial, the government proved that Pursley received more than $4.8 million and a 25% ownership interest in the co-conspirator’s ongoing business for his role in the fraudulent scheme. For tax years 2009 and 2010, Pursley evaded the assessment of and failed to pay the income taxes he owed on these payments by, among other means, withdrawing the funds as purported non-taxable loans and returns of capital. The government showed at trial that Pursley used the money he garnered from the fraudulent scheme for personal investments, and to purchase assets for himself, including a vacation home in Vail, Colorado and property in Houston, Texas. In total, Pursley caused a tax loss to the IRS of more than $6.4 million.

Pursley is scheduled to be sentenced on June 8. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division made the announcement.

IRS-Criminal Investigation is investigating the case.

Senior Litigation Counsel Sean Beaty and Trial Attorneys Grace Albinson and Wilson Rae Stamm of the Justice Department’s Tax Division are prosecuting the case.

Updated March 28, 2023

Press Release Number: 23-344