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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Vermont

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Craig Cowles Pleads Not Guilty to Tax Evasion Charges

The United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Craig Cowles, 51, of Richmond, pleaded not guilty today in United States District Court in Burlington to tax-related fraud charges.  U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy released Cowles on conditions pending trial, which has not been scheduled.

On September 25, a federal grand jury in Rutland returned an indictment charging Cowles with five counts of tax evasion and 14 counts of structuring bank transactions to avoid currency reporting requirements.  According to the indictment, Cowles is the owner of Cowles Excavating, an earth-moving business located in Richmond.  The indictment charges that between 2012 and 2017, Cowles generated approximately $2.8 million in gross revenue from Cowles Excavating and other businesses he operated.  It alleges that during that period, Cowles filed no tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service and paid no federal income taxes despite earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in net profits. 

The indictment further accuses Cowles of structuring financial transactions to avoid federal currency reporting requirements.  Under law, a financial institution must file a report with the Secretary of the Treasury whenever a customer engages in a financial transaction, such as a bank deposit or withdrawal, that involves more than $10,000 in cash.  According to the indictment, Cowles structured a number of transactions to avoid this reporting requirement.  He allegedly did this by breaking down checks he received from business clients into cash amounts that were slightly under $10,000, then using additional funds from the checks to buy cashiers checks payable to himself.  Cowles often converted these cashiers checks into additional cash.  Federal law prohibits anyone from structuring deposits and withdrawals that are intended to circumvent the $10,000 cash reporting requirement.

The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charges in the indictment are merely accusations and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty.

The tax evasion charges are punishable by up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000.  The structuring charges are also punishable by up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.  The actual sentence in the event of a conviction would be determined with reference to federal sentencing guidelines.

The case was investigated by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service.

Cowles is represented by Tris Coffin and Tim Doherty.  The prosecutor is Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Waples.

Financial Fraud
Updated October 24, 2019