Kenai man found guilty of tax evasion

Editor's note: This story was updated to indicate that Michael Spisak is no longer affiliated with TransNorthern Air.

 

A Kenai-based commercial pilot was convicted Monday of tax evasion.

Michael A. Spisak failed to pay over employees’ taxes to the Internal Revenue Service for two companies, according to evidence introduced during a federal trial. This failure led to expensive tax penalties, which Spisak evaded paying.

Karen L. Loeffler, United States Attorney for the District of Alaska, announced Monday that an Anchorage jury in federal court found Spisak, 46, guilty of tax evasion.

Spisak was remanded to Anchorage Correctional Complex, pending sentencing scheduled for Jan. 10, 2013 at the Nesbett Courthouse in Anchorage.

According to a press release from Loeffler’s office, Spisak is a commercial pilot who worked as an assistant hunting and fishing guide and transporter in Alaska since the 1980s.

The jury found Spisak responsible for not paying over income taxes, social security taxes and Medicare taxes withheld from the employees of TransNorthern Aviation Inc. and Bellair Inc. — companies which he either controlled or owned.

He operated the companies under Ram Aviation, which he establish sometime in the 1980s according to a federal indictment, as well as Hunt and Fish Alaska.

Spisak is no longer affiliated with TransNorthern. The company is owned by Andrea Larson, and operated by Larson and her husband, Alan.

From October 1999 to December 2000, Spisak purchased two Kenai Peninsula properties and three aircraft vehicles, two Pipers and a Cessna, according to the indictment.

TransNorthern failed to pay over taxes totaling $140,134.32 in 2000. And in 2001, the IRS began issuing penalties against the company. For four years, Spisak continued to avoid paying over taxes, and he purchased and transferred ownership of multiple aircraft, according to the indictment.

As a result, the IRS handed down more than $200,000 in tax penalties in 2005, according to the press release.

To evade the payment of the tax penalties, the evidence presented at trial showed Spisak committed numerous acts of tax evasion: he created nominee companies to hold aircraft which he either used in his businesses or controlled; he created an overseas bank account in Belize; he placed assets in the names of others; he paid creditors but not the federal government; he transferred funds through the bank accounts of his children; and he provided false or incomplete information to the IRS and to his tax preparer.

The IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division led the probe of Spisak’s tax evasion.

“The real victim of tax fraud is the honest taxpayer — the person who pays their taxes and trusts that everyone else does the same,” said Kenneth Hines, special agent in charge of IRS criminal investigations in the Pacific Northwest, in the press release. “By investigating those who attempt to hide their assets and evade their taxes, IRS Criminal Investigation (Division) helps assure the honest citizen of the integrity of our nation’s tax system.”

The court will impose a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. Spisak’s actual sentence will be based upon the seriousness of his offenses and his criminal history, as required under federal sentencing guidelines.

According to online court records, Spisak faces four counts of second-degree unsworn falsification for an open Kenai case. Court records also show the defendant’s involvement in 14 civil cases since 1985.

 

Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at jerzy.shedlock@peninsulaclarion.com.

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