Former car dealership manager gets 2 years in prison, must pay $448,000 restitution


Date: June 7, 2023


Fayetteville, AK — A Cave Springs man and former general manager at several Northwest Arkansas car dealerships was sentenced Monday to 24 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay more than $448,000 in restitution for evading federal income taxes for seven years. U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearing, which followed the January 23, 2023, guilty plea entered by defendant Jonathan M. Wichman, to a criminal information charging him with tax evasion.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Wichman worked from 2014 through 2020, mainly as a general manager at car dealerships in Northwest Arkansas. During these years, Wichman earned more than $2.3 million in wages. However, Wichman did not file timely tax returns with the IRS for any of those years despite receiving correspondence from the IRS asking why he had not filed his tax returns. In May 2019, the IRS issued assessments for Wichman's 2014 and 2016 taxes, which he did not pay. In 2019, Wichman filed his tax returns for tax years 2014 through 2018, but did not make any payments. Also, in October 2018, Wichman accessed his employer's online payroll system and caused the dealership to not withhold any federal income taxes or employment taxes from his 2019 and 2020 wages, and he again did not file returns in 2019 and 2020.

Wichman told investigating agents that he knew he owed past due taxes to the IRS. Wichman said he prepared his taxes using commercial software, and each year, the program showed he owed a large amount of taxes. Wichman claimed he did not have the money to pay his taxes, so he did not file his tax returns. However, the investigation revealed that Wichman did have money available to pay his taxes. From 2018 through 2021, Wichman made cash transactions at various casinos and banks totaling more than one million dollars. In addition, from 2014 through 2022, Wichman spent more than $513,000 on luxury vehicles, a travel trailer, and a Florida vacation

In total, Wichman evaded $276,244 in income taxes – $263,615 owed to the IRS, and $12,628 owed to the state of Arkansas. Judge Brooks ordered Wichman to pay $448,592 in restitution, which included penalties and interest – $445,715 to the U.S. Treasury and $12,997 to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement.

The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation investigated the case, with assistance from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Mohlhenrich prosecuted the case for the United States.