Disgraced soccer team owner sentenced to additional prison time for massive federal and state tax fraud

 

Date: April 9, 2021

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

SEATTLE — A former Seattle college soccer star, currently serving a nearly 15-year prison sentence for sexual assault in Arizona and on a second sexual assault case in King County, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to an additional year and a day in prison for making false statements on a tax return, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. During a massive tax fraud scheme, Dion L. Earl purchased the Seattle Impact FC franchise, a professional indoor soccer club. According to the plea agreement, between 2008 and 2014, Earl used false documents to lie about his income, the amount of tax dollars withheld by employers, and his mortgage deductions so that he could attempt to claim tax refunds of more than $1.6 million. At today's sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik noted Earl would pay a price by missing critical years with his children, with no way to recapture them. "You're either there or you're not," the judge said.

"This defendant lived a lie in most parts of his life—including his financial life," said Acting U.S. Attorney Gorman. "His scheme of phony documents stole more than a million U.S. tax dollars, and another $600,000 from the state of Arizona. It is appropriate that he serves substantial prison time—nearly 15 years—for the sexual assaults, with the additional year of prison time for the tax fraud."

In the 1990s, Earl was a soccer star at Seattle Pacific University. Between 2008 and 2014, Earl also worked in car sales in Washington State and Arizona and owned Dion Earl's Total Soccer & Tennis Camps, LLC, d/b/a Total Business Ventures, and the Seattle Impact, FC. Earl used his association with car dealers, Dion Earl's Total Soccer & Tennis Camps, and the Seattle Impact to commit tax fraud.

With his guilty plea in January 2021, Earl specifically acknowledged that, on his 2012 Form 1040 tax return, he claimed that (1) he made $1,600,000 working for eight different car dealers, which withheld more than $660,000 of his wages for taxes, and (2) his wife was employed by Dion Earl's Total Soccer & Tennis Camps, which paid her $240,000 and withheld $51,000 in taxes, and (3) he made $520,000 in mortgage interest payments on four different properties. All these claims were false. During 2012, Earl made less than $45,000, from which he did not have any taxes withheld, and he paid limited mortgage interest. Due to the false claims, Earl obtained a federal tax refund of $414,160.

Even after the IRS began a civil audit of his taxes in 2013, Earl continued to make false claims and provide false information to the IRS. For example, Earl admitted that, as late as 2015, he falsely claimed he and his wife made $765,000 from Dion Earl's Total Soccer & Tennis Camps, LLC, and the Seattle Impact FC, from which the businesses withheld $180,000 in taxes. In making these false claims, Earl sought a tax refund of $137,554. That refund was not paid.

"Tax fraud cheats all honest American taxpayers who are paying their fair share and deprives our communities of crucial resources," said Acting Special Agent in Charge Steven Slazinik of IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). "Today, Mr. Earl was held accountable for his illicit personal gain at the expense of his friends, neighbors, and community. IRS-CI will continue to protect the integrity of our tax system and in doing so, safeguard the well-being of our communities."

In total, Earl sought $1.6 million in fraudulent tax refunds and was paid $1,093,534 by the IRS. Earl will owe restitution to the U.S. in that amount, as well as more than $600,000 in restitution to the State of Arizona, as a result of fraudulent tax returns he filed with that state. Earl also agreed to pay Key Bank approximately $100,000 in restitution for submitting false information in 2008 for a home equity line of credit.

Through tears, Earl told the Court, "I disappointed Seattle and disappointed my family… I just miss my kids."

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Arlen Storm.