Two Portland Marijuana Proprietors Accused of Tax Crimes
PORTLAND, Ore. – Today in separate criminal informations, tax charges were filed in federal court against two Portland-based marijuana business owners. Nathan Wheeler, 42, of Portland, was charged with one count each of wire fraud and tax evasion. Matthew Price, 32, also of Portland, faces four counts of willfully failing to file income tax returns.
According to court documents, Wheeler, a certified public accountant, is alleged to have engaged in a scheme to defraud clients and investors of more than $4.4 million while also evading income taxes. Wheeler and others operated Bridge City Advisors, LLC, offering accounting, investment, and legal services to clients throughout Portland. Wheeler also held an Oregon medical marijuana license to grow and distribute marijuana. He is accused of using investor funds, without their knowledge or consent, in part, to build and expand his marijuana enterprise. In carrying out his fraud, he sometimes prepared false account statements to keep clients from discovering the unauthorized use of funds.
Beginning in August 2013, Price was part owner and operator of a Portland-based medical marijuana dispensary. In 2014, Price and his business partner opened two additional retail locations, a second in Portland and one in Eugene, Oregon. Between 2011 and 2014, Price allegedly received substantial income from the business and a marijuana farmers’ market he previously owned and operated. During this four-year period, Price is accused of failing to file individual income tax returns, resulting in a tax loss of nearly $263,000.
Both defendants are expected to make their first appearance in federal court on Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
A criminal charge is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.