Owner of Pacific Crest equity partners pleads guilty to tax evasion, forfeits $1.9 m


Date: April 4, 2023

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

San Diego, CA — Kenneth Yonika of Alpine, California pleaded guilty in federal court today to evading federal taxes in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

As part of his guilty plea, Yonika agreed to pay $669,133 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and forfeit $1.9 million seized by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

According to court documents, in 2017, 2018 and 2020, Yonika and his partners utilized a foreign-based nominee to sell securities in the United States and abroad. To offer the securities, Yonika and others had the nominee sign paperwork falsely reporting the nominee owned the securities. Yonika and others then opened a United States bank account to receive millions of dollars in profits from the sale of the securities, which were distributed to Yonika and his partners.

In an effort to hide the income of the securities sales, Yonika engaged in numerous financial transactions involving his personal bank accounts and bank accounts belonging to his company, Pacific Crest Equity Partners, Inc. For example, Yonika conducted dozens of wire transfers from both personal bank accounts and Pacific Crest bank accounts to family members and used Pacific Crest Equity Partner bank accounts to purchase real property and pay for personal expenses. Yonika admitted that his transactions with the nominee, Pacific Crest Bank accounts, and family members were all willful attempts to criminally evade income taxation.

“When someone cheats the tax system, it hurts all honest taxpayers and the integrity of our institutions,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “This office will pursue and seek a just punishment for these crimes.” Grossman thanked the prosecution team and agents from IRS and Homeland Security Investigations for their excellent work on this case.

“Mr. Yonika attempted to bypass rules that protect our capital markets, and then skirted U.S. tax laws to evade paying his fair share on the millions of dollars he profited,” said Special Agent in Charge Tyler Hatcher of the IRS Criminal Investigation’s Los Angeles Field Office.  “At this time of year, when hard working Americans are honestly and diligently preparing their tax returns, it is unacceptable that Mr. Yonika evaded his taxes by taking overt steps to hide his income. The IRS Criminal Investigation and its law enforcement partners are determined to bring those that commit tax fraud to justice.”

“HSI Costa Pacifico Money Laundering Task Force will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute criminals that use complex financial schemes to defraud innocent investors,” said HSI San Diego Special Agent in Charge, Chad Platz. “Offshore accounts and shell companies will not deter us from holding these bad actors accountable.”

Sentencing is scheduled for June 30 at 8:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel.