Judge sentences family to jail after inheriting hidden account

Going through an inheritance after a loved one dies is a difficult and emotional time. In addition to the emotional turmoil, those who are left behind must also deal with the logistics that come with the estate.

In some cases, these logistics can come with unexpected legal questions.

Difficult legal question: Report or follow in dad’s footsteps?

A family recently found themselves in a quagmire when their father passed. It turned out the father had been using illegal shell companies to hide assets from the United States government. The practice rose to the level of tax evasion. The family had two options: report the assets to the United States government or continue in their father’s footsteps.

They chose to take on their father’s legacy and did not report the asset. As part of the scheme, each member of the family would travel to Switzerland, take out approximately $10,000 from the account and bring it back to the U.S., undeclared, in cash.

The accused family members plead guilty to the government’s allegations of tax fraud. A federal judge sentenced the family to prison time as well as $4 million in taxes and restitution. The sentences range from four to six months. The judge stated the sentence was important to deter others from similar crimes. However, due to their philanthropic activities and other evidence of good character presented at trial the judge also stated he recognized the accused were unlikely to be repeat offenders. As such, he chose a relatively small sentence for the crimes. The advisor who allegedly encouraged the crimes is serving a 20-month prison sentence.

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