Two defendants indicted on tax fraud and obstruction charges made their first appearances in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Friday.
According to the indictment returned on March 3, 2021, Harold Walls, of Clare, Michigan, managed the day-to-day operations of the Days Inn Clare, a hotel owned by his father, Karl Walls. Rather than pay himself regular wages through the hotel’s payroll system, Harold Walls allegedly caused himself to be paid by other means, including by paying personal expenses from the hotel’s operating account.
Harold Walls then allegedly filed individual income tax returns for 2013 through 2017 that did not report any income from the hotel. Rather, Harold Walls allegedly only reported wages from his employment as a professor of hospitality management and income from the rental of farmland.
The indictment further charges that Karl Walls reported income and expenses for the Days Inn Clare on Schedules C attached to his individual tax returns. From 2012 through 2017, Harold Walls allegedly provided and caused his father to provide false and incomplete information to Karl Walls’ return preparer, which resulted in the preparation of Schedules C for the hotel that understated its gross receipts and overstated its expenses.
In particular, the information allegedly provided to the tax return preparer did not include revenue for 11 “off book” rooms that were not tracked in the hotel’s reservation system and, as a result, the revenue for these rooms was not reported on the Schedules C. The information allegedly provided to the tax return preparer also included inflated expense figures for the hotel’s property taxes for 2013, 2014, and 2017.
Finally, the indictment charges that both Harold Walls and Karl Walls attempted to obstruct the criminal investigation of Harold Walls. In January 2017, after IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) special agents notified Harold Walls that he was the subject of a criminal tax investigation, Harold Walls allegedly made false statements to the special agents about his work at the hotel and attempted to cause a hotel employee to make similar false statements. In October 2018, Karl Walls also allegedly attempted to corruptly persuade two witnesses to provide false testimony to the grand jury regarding his son’s employment at the hotel.
Harold Walls is charged with filing false tax returns, aiding in the preparation of false tax returns, and endeavoring to obstruct the IRS. If convicted, Harold Walls faces a maximum term of imprisonment of three years on each of the tax and obstruction charges.
Karl Walls is charged with two counts of witness tampering. Karl Walls faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on each count of witness tampering. Both defendants also face a period of supervised release and monetary penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division made the announcement.