Orange County businessman pleads guilty to tax evasion for failing to report nearly $9 million of his company’s income


Date: July 7, 2023


Santa Ana, CA — The owner of a Newport Beach-based artificial turf company pleaded guilty today to a federal criminal charge for failing to report nearly $9 million in income his business earned and for attempting to evade the payment of more than $946,000 in federal income taxes.

Craig Steven Voyton of San Pedro, pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion.

Voyton owns and operates Smart Grass LLC, which installs artificial turf for residential and commercial customers in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

According to his plea agreement, from 2016 to 2020, Smart Grass generated more than $1.5 million in gross income per year from its business operations, and – not wanting to pay taxes that income – Voyton attempted to conceal that income from the IRS.

To do so, Voyton emailed customers federal tax forms listing false identification information, so if and when the customers reported to the IRS the payments they had made to him and his company, those payments would not tie for tax purposes directly to Voyton or Smart Grass.

On three occasions in 2020, Voyton emailed to customers in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills an IRS Form W-9 with false information and a signature in a fictitious identity. Voyton admitted in his plea agreement to sending similar fraudulent IRS Forms W-9 during the tax years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Voyton further admitted to providing a false IRS Form W-9 to a school in Irvine in August 2016.

While attempting to evade the payment of taxes during this time, Voyton made more than $63,000 in transfers to the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange from a Smart Grass bank account. Voyton also used more than $500,000 in company funds to make real estate purchases in Nevada and Mexico.

In total, Voyton failed to report approximately $8,926,333 in income, which prevented the IRS from assessing the total sum of approximately $946,479 in federal income taxes for the tax years 2016 through 2020.

Voyton has agreed that before sentencing, he will pay the IRS all the back taxes he owes, plus interest, as well as paying an additional 75% fraud penalty.

United States District Judge John W. Holcomb scheduled a September 8 sentencing hearing, at which time Voyton will face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

IRS Criminal Investigation investigated this matter.

Assistant United States Attorney Charles E. Pell of the Santa Ana Branch Office is prosecuting this case.