Northwest Indiana Businessman Who Used Sham Trusts Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud on Eve of Trial
Donald Sikma, a businessman from Dyer, Ind., has pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return. Sikma, whose trial was scheduled to begin today, entered his guilty plea Monday before Judge Theresa L. Springmann in Fort Wayne, Ind.
According to the superseding indictment and statements made during the guilty plea, Sikma sheltered millions of dollars of income using a tax avoidance scheme promoted by the now-defunct Aegis Company. As part of this scheme, Sikma transferred portions of his income to an offshore trust. Sikma failed to report this income on his individual income tax returns. Using the offshore Aegis trust and other sham trusts, Sikma fraudulently avoided paying at least $1.13 million in federal income taxes.
Sikma pleaded guilty to one count of filing false tax returns for the 1998 tax year. This charge carries a statutory maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Donald Sikma further agreed to cooperate with the IRS and to pay his outstanding tax liabilities. Judge Springmann scheduled Sikma’s sentencing for Aug. 31, 2009.
The six principal promoters of the Aegis trust scheme were convicted of a tax fraud conspiracy and other tax crimes following a jury trial in May 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. These Aegis promoters have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from ten to eighteen years.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John A. DiCicco of the Justice Department’s Tax Division commended the IRS-Criminal Investigation special agents who investigated the case, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Berkowitz from the Northern District of Indiana and Tax Division trial attorney Joseph Rillotta who prosecuted the case.