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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Kentucky

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Louisville Businessman Guilty Of Evading $355,331.24 In Employment Taxes

– Concealed assets while using business accounts to fund personal aircraft travel, luxury vehicles and entertainment

LOUISVILLE, KY – Louisville Businessman Martin Twist pleaded guilty today in United States District court before Senior Judge Charles R. Simpson III to a single charge of willfully attempting to evade and defeat the payment of employment taxes, interest, and penalties totaling approximately $355,331.24, announced David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.

According to the plea agreement, Twist, age 70, beginning in June 2004, directed various bookkeepers and controllers of his businesses (which included Blue Flame Energy Col., LLC; Cherokee Drilling Co., LLC; and Martin Twist Energy Co., LLC) to stop filing employment tax returns and paying over employment taxes, and he fired a bookkeeper and a controller who paid over employment taxes to the IRS against his direction. Beginning in or about June 2004, Twist concealed assets from the IRS through inter-account transfers in order to keep his business account balances low and prevent IRS collection enforcement activity.

In early 2004, Twist caused Blue Flame Energy Co., LLC, to be created in the name of a nominee owner in order to conceal the assets of Cherokee Drilling Co. from the IRS. He caused assets of Cherokee Drilling Company and Martin Twist Energy Co., LLC, to be transferred to Blue Flame Energy Co. and its nominee owner. At all times defendant Twist maintained control of Blue Flame Energy Co.

Beginning in August of 2004 Twist transferred real estate and business holdings to nominee owners in order to remove his name as owner and to prevent IRS collection enforcement activity. More particularly, he transferred assets owned and controlled by Cherokee Drilling Co. and Martin Twist Energy Co. to Joerhea Realty, LLC, and Beasley Realty, LLC. At all times Twist maintained control of the real estate companies. In 2007 and 2008 Twist sent multiple letters either personally or through a CPA to the IRS that falsely denied his ownership and control of Blue Flame Energy Co.

Further, from 2004 through 2008 Twist used business accounts to fund his personal life style including $20,000 to $40,000 in monthly expenses that included personal aircraft travel, extravagant dining, private school tuition, vacations, luxury vehicles, and entertainment expenses, all in a continuing effort to avoid payment of employment taxes to the IRS.

A grand jury meeting in Louisville, Kentucky Tuesday, February 7, 2012 returned the single count indictment against Twist. At sentencing, Twist will face up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a term of three years of supervised release.

Sentencing is scheduled for October 18, 2013, at 1:30 pm, in Louisville, before Senior Judge Simpson.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Calhoun and was investigated by the IRS Criminal Investigations.

Updated December 15, 2014