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Press Release

Michigan Real Estate Developer Indicted for Tax and Bank Fraud

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A federal grand jury in Grand Rapids, Michigan, returned an indictment yesterday charging a Michigan businessman with tax evasion, filing false documents with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), making false statements to IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) agents, and mortgage fraud, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Andrew B. Birge for the Western District of Michigan.

According to the indictment, Scott Allan Chappelle, of Okemos and East Lansing, Michigan, was an attorney and former Certified Public Accountant who operated Terra Management Company LLC, Strathmore Development Company Michigan LLC, and Terra Holding LLC, companies involved in real estate development and property management. Chappelle allegedly failed to pay over to the IRS employment taxes that were withheld from the wages of the companies’ employees. After the IRS attempted to collect the unpaid taxes, from 2010 through 2019, Chappelle allegedly evaded the payment of more than $830,000 in unpaid taxes by making false statements to the IRS about his and his companies’ assets and income, failing to disclose his vacation house on Lake Michigan, and purchasing real property in nominee names instead of his own. 

Chappelle is also charged with making false statements to IRS-CI agents during its criminal investigation. As alleged, Chappelle told investigators that he had not personally purchased any real estate during the last three years when in fact he had purchased both a condominium in East Lansing and a house in Powell, Ohio, during that time. The indictment further alleges that Chappelle falsely told investigators that the condominium was for his son and paid for with student loan funds. Chappelle is also charged with filing a tax return for Terra Holdings on which he falsely claimed that the company had no employees and paid no wages. 

The indictment also charges that Chappelle made false statements and submitted fraudulent documents to a bank when refinancing his lake house mortgage.  Chappelle allegedly falsely represented that he was not a party to a lawsuit or owed any federal debt when in fact, Chappelle was a party to at least two lawsuits and had outstanding tax liabilities. Chappelle is also alleged to have submitted fraudulent bank statements that showed a substantially higher balance in an account than the account actually had at that time.

If convicted, Chappelle faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years for tax evasion and making a false statement, three years for filing a false document with the IRS, and 30 years for bank fraud. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Birge commended agents of IRS-CI, who investigated the case, and Trial Attorney Melissa S. Siskind of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy P. VerHey, who are prosecuting the case. 

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.

Updated June 4, 2020

Press Release Number: 20-517