Beaufort County Man Sentenced for Tax Evasion and Ordered to Pay $3,097,582 in Restitution
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA — Michael Sturms, 78, of Bluffton, was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) after pleading guilty to tax evasion.
Evidence presented to the Court showed that Sturms failed to timely file individual income tax returns with the IRS for tax years 2007 through 2012, and he only filed these delinquent returns in 2014 as part of divorce proceedings from his then-wife. Sturms signed each of these late filed returns, admitting to a significant tax deficiency.
In 2015, the IRS filed a number of federal tax liens in South Carolina and Florida against Sturms and his business entities for taxes owed. On March 9, 2015, the IRS sent Sturms a Final Notice of Intent to Levy in the amount of $2,368,409.94, which included the total taxes, penalties, and interest then due and owing.
Knowing that he had taxes due and owing, Sturms attempted to evade and defeat the payment of income tax by engaging in a series of financial transactions that were designed to hide funds that Sturms received from a large breach-of-contract settlement. These efforts to evade the payment of taxes included Sturms’ creation of a new business checking account in the name of Worldwide Financials, LLC, to deposit $1,181,321.64 of settlement money, a failed attempt to withdraw $1 million in cash from this newly created account, and the transfer of $550,000 of these settlement proceeds to his new wife, which then was used to purchase a residence lien-free in his new wife’s name.
As part of his sentence, United States District Judge Richard M. Gergel ordered defendant to pay $3,097,582 in restitution, which represents the accrued unpaid taxes, interest, and fees owed to the United States.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Allessandra Stewart is prosecuting the case.
Brook Andrews, First Assistant United States Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Brook.Andrews@usdoj.gov, (803) 929-3000
Updated March 21, 2023