Businessman Gets Federal Time
Christopher Scott Harrison, 56, of Fayetteville pled guilty today to willfully filing a false tax return with respect to nearly $25 million in unreported income he paid to himself from his company.
“This businessman tried to dodge paying millions in federal taxes by disguising personal luxuries as business expenses. Harrison diverted company funds to buy nearly a million dollars worth of bling, including an estimated $145,000 Rolex watch, $102,000 Cartier diamond necklace, and $85,000 Tiffany bracelet,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “Wealthy tax cheats cannot be allowed to line their pockets at the expense of hardworking American taxpayers.”
According to the criminal information and evidence summarized in court, Harrison became the CFO and majority owner of an insurance and human resources benefits business, Ebenconcepts. Beginning at least as early as 2012, Harrison began to lavishly spend company funds for his own benefit, for example purchasing a watch for approximately $145,000 and spending approximately $300,000 of company funds for a swimming pool at his residence. As these expenditures came to light, Harrison filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
During the bankruptcy proceedings, an accounting firm retained by the Bankruptcy Trustee discovered almost $25 million in personal expenditures attributable to Harrison reported as business expenses between tax years 2012 and 2018. Harrison filed false personal returns over that period, which failed to report the income, leading to almost $6 million in uncollected federal income taxes.
“The IRS enforces the nation's tax laws, but also takes particular interest in cases where someone does not pay their fair share in taxes by intentionally not reporting all their income,” said Donald “Trey” Eakins, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation’s Charlotte Field Office. “IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to work with our law enforcement partners by lending its expertise in these complex financial investigations.”
Harrison pleaded guilty to willfully filing a false tax return. He faces up to three years in prison, restitution to the IRS and a potential fine. Sentencing before U.S. Chief District Judge Richard E. Myers II is scheduled to occur in the next few months.
Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after Chief U.S. District Judge Richard E. Myers II accepted the plea. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney David G. Beraka is prosecuting the case.