LOS ANGELES – An Agoura Hills real estate developer was sentenced today to 41 months in federal prison for failing to disclose on a bankruptcy petition that he had earned nearly $2.3 million in income and for failing to report almost $6.9 million in income on his tax returns.
Mark Handel, 69, was sentenced by United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II, who also fined Handel $20,000 and ordered him to forfeit approximately $3,545,712, which represents the proceeds of the sale of real estate in Alameda County. Judge Wright also ordered Handel to pay the IRS approximately $1,618,836 in outstanding tax liabilities, including penalties and interest.
Handel pleaded guilty on February 23 to one count of making a false statement in bankruptcy and one count of subscribing to a false tax return.
Prior to today’s hearing and pursuant to his plea agreement, Handel paid the IRS approximately $1,618,836 in outstanding tax liabilities, including penalties and interest.
In April 2015, Handel filed a bankruptcy petition in Los Angeles in which he claimed under penalty of perjury he had no income from 2013 until April 2015. In fact, he earned approximately $2,263,221 in income through DTMM Construction Inc., his West Los Angeles-based real estate development company, which, according to court documents, stood for “Don’t Touch My Money.” To further conceal his income from the bankruptcy court and creditors, Handel arranged for DTMM to be registered in his wife’s name but used the company to deposit the profits from his own work as a real estate developer and to pay for his and his family’s living expenses.
Handel concealed his income from his creditors by depositing it into DTMM’s accounts. Among the assets Handel hid from creditors included his interest in real estate in Livermore, California, which later was sold for approximately $3,545,712, the proceeds of which he agreed to forfeit.
In October 2016, Handel signed and filed a false federal income tax return for the tax year 2015 that failed to disclose approximately $1,096,175 in additional income. For the tax years 2010 to 2017, Handel failed to report a total of approximately $6,886,877 of income on his federal tax returns.
Handel also falsely reported a net operating loss of $7,259,119 on his 2017 federal income tax return as well as underreported his income on his 2018 tax return by $1,411,050 and admitted to failing to pay $460,408 in additional tax.
“[Handel’s] crimes were not born out of desperation, nor done on a whim without much thought,” prosecutors argued in a sentencing memorandum. “His crimes required planning, calculation, and an almost insatiable drive to break the law time and time again. Indeed, given the brazenness of his conduct, including bragging to others that his company stood for ‘Don’t Touch My Money,’ [Handel] believed he was above the law.”
IRS Criminal Investigation and the FBI investigated this matter with assistance from the Office of the United States Trustee.
Assistant United States Attorney Thomas F. Rybarczyk of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section prosecuted this case.