Agoura Hills real estate developer agrees to plead guilty to lying on bankruptcy petition and filing false federal income tax returns


Date: February 6, 2023


LOS ANGELES — An Agoura Hills-based real estate developer has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges for failing to disclose on a bankruptcy petition that he had earned nearly $2.3 million in income and for failing to report almost $6.9 million in income on his tax returns, the Justice Department announced today.

Mark Handel has agreed to plead guilty to a two-count information charging him with making a false statement in bankruptcy and subscribing to a false tax return. Both the information and Handel's plea agreement were filed today in United States District Court.

Handel has agreed to forfeit approximately $3,545,712, which represents the proceeds of the sale of real estate in Alameda County. Handel also has agreed to pay to the IRS approximately $1,450,070 in tax liabilities, which include civil fraud penalties.

He is expected to enter a guilty plea in the coming weeks.

According to his plea agreement, in April 2015, Handel filed a bankruptcy petition in Los Angeles in which he knowingly made false statements. Under penalty of perjury, Handel stated that he had no income from 2013 until April 2015. In fact, Handel earned approximately $2,263,221 in income from DTMM Construction Inc., his West Los Angeles-based real estate development company. Handel caused DTMM, which, according to court documents, stands for "Don't Touch My Money," to be registered in his wife's name but used DTMM to deposit the profits from his own work as a real estate developer and to pay for his and his family's living expenses.

Handel concealed his income from his creditors by depositing it into DTMM's accounts. Among the assets Handel hid from creditors included his interest in real estate in Livermore, California.

In October 2016, Handel signed and filed a false federal income tax return for the tax year 2015 that failed to disclose approximately $1,096,175 in additional income. Handel further admitted that for the tax years 2010 to 2017, he failed to report a total of approximately $6,886,877 of income on his federal tax returns.

Handel also falsely reported a net operating loss of $7,259,119 on his 2017 federal income tax return as well as underreported his income on his 2018 tax return by $1,411,050 and admitted to failing to pay $460,408 in additional tax.

Once Handel pleads guilty to both charges, he will face a statutory maximum penalty of eight years in federal prison.

IRS Criminal Investigation and the FBI investigated this matter with assistance from the Office of the United States Trustee.

Assistant United States Attorney Thomas F. Rybarczyk of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section is prosecuting this case.