Central and northern California are places particularly known for their ability to make amazing wines and areas like Napa have transformed into a formidable rival of Paris, in the industry. Something that the area is not well known for is financial crime. But that didn’t stop a Santa Barbara area winemaker from trying to get the trend started. Now, he is facing criminal charges and potential time in prison. It is a wake up call to anyone who is being investigated for any tax crime.
According to several news outlets, Christian Garvin, 41, was arrested earlier this month on charges of embezzlement and tax fraud. Prosecutors allege that he stole more than $1 million and transferred the funds to a bank account that he opened with a name similar to the Oreana Winery, the Solvang winery that he partially owned.
Garvin owned ten percent of the winery and handled the day-to-day operations of the business. The other owners were business partners in Los Angeles. When the Southern California investors initially became suspicious, they believed that Garvin had only embezzled approximately $200,000, but after an investigation by the Santa Barbara Police Department’s Property Crimes Unit, the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office, and the California Franchise Tax Board, they leaned that over $1.2 million had been funneled away from the business. In addition to the theft, Garvin is accused of filing false tax returns for eight years, ending in 2013.
If the allegations against Mr. Garvin are proved true, he will likely be sentenced to a significant stint in a California prison. Furthermore, the charges that he is currently jailed on are not federal and only represent alleged violations of federal law. If Garvin violated state law by fraudulently preparing his state tax return, it is completely possible that he also committed federal tax fraud by lying on his federal return. A federal investigation could land him in a federal penitentiary after his time in a California state prison.
As evidenced by the story above, allegations of tax fraud are not joke. A small investigation by the California Franchise Tax Board or other state authorities can snowball into a full-blown criminal investigation that can turn into an avalanche of criminal prosecutions and an extended stay behind bars.
If you are being investigated by any taxing authority or by law enforcement with regard to financial crimes, you are at risk. It is in your best interest to contact an experienced tax attorney who has extensive experience in representing clients in criminal investigations and litigation.
The tax and accounting professionals at the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing leverage their comprehensive knowledge and experience in both law and tax accounting to provide a truly individualized and effective plan of attack to ensure that everything is done to maintain your personal and financial freedom. Contact the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing today at (800) 681-1295 or online for a reduced-rate consultation.