Eight people were indicted Thursday on federal charges of helping hundreds of rich Americans avoid $68 million in taxes through the use of domestic and offshore trusts.
The 51-count indictment outlines a scheme to sell foreign and domestic trusts through The Aegis Co., based in the Chicago suburb of Palos Hills, the Chicago Tribune reported.
About 650 wealthy Americans were involved in the scheme, which involved moving money out of businesses, into a business trust, to an asset management trust, and then to trusts in exotic locales or fake charitable trusts. The business owner would then get the money back tax-free through fraudulent loans, gifts and ATM cash withdrawals.
Federal agents in Illinois, Indiana, New York and Alabama began rounding up seven defendants in the case, officials said. The eighth, who lives in South Carolina, was to surrender later.
"The government will not tolerate schemes by wealthy people to funnel millions of dollars offshore to illegally escape taxes," IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson told a news conference.
Michael A. Vallone, of Orland Park, Ill., an Aegis founder and its executive director, was charged with 37 counts, including filing false tax returns, tax evasion, wire fraud and mail fraud, according to the Associated Press. Also charged were five others associated with the company: Edward B. Bartoli, of Little River, S.C., Robert W. Hopper, of Gadsden, Ala., Timothy Shawn Dunn, of Chesterton, Ind., William S. Cover, of Naperville, Ill., and David E. Parker, of Williamsville, N.Y.
Prosecutors are asking a court to order forfeiture of $4.12 million from Vallone, Bartoli, Dunn and Cover. They also seek forfeiture of Vallone's home, Dunn's home, Indiana real estate owned by Dunn and three Lincoln limousines and a Lotus auto Dunn also owns.
In separate indictments, two others were charged with preparing fraudulent tax returns for Aegis clients: Laura M. Baxter, of Monee, Ill., and Donald J. Todd, of South Holland, Ill.