Paradise Valley man pleads guilty to $50 million tax fraud scheme
Feb 18, 2023, 7:15 AM
(Photo by David Inderlied/Getty Images)
PHOENIX — A Paradise Valley man pleaded guilty in January to a seven-year tax fraud scheme that resulted in more than $50 million from illegal tax refunds.
56-year-old Charles St. George Kirkland falsely claimed he lost more than $135 million investing in solar equipment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington said in a press release.
Kirkland then “sold” the losses through a network of tax preparers, telling them that their clients could use the losses to claim refunds on their tax returns, the release said.
The U.S. Treasury lost $50 million in total, with Kirkland profiting $45 million from the losses.
“Mr. Kirkland capitalized on our need and drive for clean energy, cloaking his fraud scheme in the solar energy space,” U.S. Attorney Brown said.
“He vastly inflated his investments in solar and then sold that fiction to taxpayers. The taxpayers got big refunds, but then paid 90% of the refund back to Mr. Kirkland.”
Kirkland claimed his company lost $40 million on investments into equipment in 2013 when his company actually spent around $150,000.
From 2012-18, he claimed he lost more than $135 million, but spent around $6 million.
He had a network of tax preparers who he convinced he could transfer the tax benefits of his losses to their clients. He then provided fake tax documents, saying the taxpayer were partners in Kirkland’s business and should also be entitled to part of the losses, according to the release.
The taxpayers agreed that after they received their refund from the IRS that Kirkland would receive 90% of it.
Approximately 1,500 people participated in the program with over 3,200 returns being submitted.
Under the plea agreement, Kirkland owes $51,615,484 in restitution. His sentencing is set for April 17.