A curious news story is coming out of Ramsey County after a Cottage Grove man was recently charged with tax evasion. What makes the story so interesting, however, is that he had previously been charged with embezzlement and the tax evasion charges are stemming from the money that he allegedly took from his former employer, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. This case raises some questions about just how appropriate the tax evasion charges are.
Though many people in St. Paul may not think that white-collar crimes are that severe, they can come with long prison sentences, huge fines and destroy reputations in mere moments. To heap a tax evasion charge on top of embezzlement charges means that someone who is accused of stealing money from an employer may spend even more time away from his or her family.
As we covered in an earlier blog post, the former financial director of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis became the target of an internal investigation after he was accused of stealing money from the church group. The initial concern was that the evidence that was uncovered in the internal investigation — evidence that was collected outside of the constitutional protections that limit investigating police officers — was later delivered to police. This means that the police and prosecutors may be relying on evidence that they would otherwise have been unable to obtain because it was originally discovered by members of the archdiocese.
Now, the money that internal investigators said was taken is the subject of a tax evasion case. Since the money was taken and investigators likely assume that the Cottage Grove man took it, they are now saying that he should have reported the money as income on his state taxes. Failing to do so has led to the charges of filing fraudulent tax returns and tax evasion.
Source: Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal, “Accountant charged with stealing $670K to pay children’s tuition now charged with tax evasion,” Ed Stych, Dec. 10, 2012