Beaufort Co. man sentenced for tax evasion, ordered to pay $3M in restitution
BLUFFTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A 78-year-old Bluffton man pleaded guilty to tax evasion in federal court this week, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina.
Michael Sturms, 78, of Bluffton, was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $3,097,582 in restitution to the IRS, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
United States District Judge Richard M. Gergel said the $3 million represents the accrued unpaid taxes, interest and fees owed to the United States.
Evidence presented in court showed that Sturms failed to timely file individual tax returns with the IRS for tax years 2007 through 2012, the office said. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Sturms filed the delinquent returns in 2014 as part of divorce proceedings from his then-wife. He signed the late filed returns, admitting to significant tax deficiency, according to the office.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the IRS filed several federal tax liens in South Carolina and Florida against Sturms and his business entities in 2015. The IRS sent a “Final Notice of Intent to Levy” in March 2015 for $2,368,409.94, which included the total taxes, penalties, and interest then due and owing, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The office said Sturms attempted to evade paying income taxes by completing a series of transactions to hide funds that he received from a large breach-of-contract settlement. The office said Sturms started a new business checking account with the name of Worldwide Financials, LLC.
He then tried to deposit more than $1 million in settlement money to the new account, failed to withdraw $1 million in cash and transferred $500,000 of the settlement proceeds to his new wife, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The office said the $500,000 was used to purchase a new residence lien-free in his new wife’s name.
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