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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Iowa

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Former Director of World Ambassadors, LTD Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion

A Cedar Rapids man pled guilty yesterday in federal court in Cedar Rapids. Jon S. Petersen, 55, was convicted of one count of filing a false tax return for the calendar year 2013.

At the plea hearing, Petersen admitted filing a fraudulent income tax return.  The return failed to include as income donations he diverted from World Ambassadors into his own personal checking account.  In a plea agreement, Petersen admitted he used approximately $114,581 of those funds in 2013 for his own personal use, and such funds constituted taxable income to him.  World Ambassadors is a nonprofit corporation. 

From 2005-2015, Petersen claimed to struggle with a sex addiction.  It became costly so Petersen would pay for this addiction through his credit cards, home equity lines of credit, and World Ambassadors donations. 

From 2010-2014, the number of contributors to World Ambassadors ranged from 31 to 38 people.  From January 2010 through December 2014, World Ambassadors received total deposits in the amount of $476,466.37.  Of these deposits, $475,555.47 was deposited into Petersen’s personal checking account either by bank transfers from the World Ambassador’s account or checks payable to himself from that account.  During this time period, World Ambassadors did not benefit from the use of these funds.

Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Petersen remains free on bond.  Petersen faces a mandatory minimum sentence of three years’ imprisonment without the possibility of parole, a fine of not more than $250,000, a $100 special assessment, and up to 1 year of supervised release following any imprisonment.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew J. Cole and was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service. 

Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl. 

The case file number is 16-CR-39-LTS.

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Updated May 19, 2016