Dock owner pleads guilty to failing to pay over to the IRS employment taxes


Date: June 24, 2021


Grand Rapids, MI — Jessica Marie Dowker, of Kewadin, Michigan pleaded guilty to the willful failure to pay over to the Internal Revenue Service employment taxes, U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced today. Dowker is scheduled for sentencing before Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker on October 4, 2020, at which time she will face up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. As part of her plea agreement, Dowker will pay $494,043.30 in restitution to the U.S. Treasury.

"Payroll taxes" include the Social Security, Medicare and Unemployment taxes that are routinely designated as "FICA" (Federal Insurance Contribution Act) deductions on an employee's paycheck stub. Employers are required by federal law to collect those taxes from employees, account for them on a special tax return, and pay them over to the U.S. Treasury on a quarterly basis.

Dowker and her husband own Northshore Dock LLC, a full-service boat ramp and storage facility in Kewadin, Michigan. The business employed approximately 30 regular and seasonal workers each year, and until 2013 had collected, reported, and sent their FICA contributions as required. Between 2013 and 2018, the business continued deducting the payroll taxes from its laborers' wages but failed to file employment tax returns or remit the money to the IRS. Dowker, who has an accounting degree, was responsible for the company's tax compliance.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).

"Today, it is more important than ever for hard-working taxpayers to know IRS-CI holds accountable individuals who abuse their positions of trust by failing to pay over their employees' payroll tax withholdings and utilizing these funds for personal expenditures," stated Acting Special Agent in Charge Kelly Lewis. "All taxpayers deserve our vigilance in the investigation and prosecution of allegations of tax fraud."