School children have played hide-and-go-seek for decades if not centuries. For them, it’s a game that will inevitably end with the hider being discovered, an accomplishment that is celebrated by the finder. It turns out that the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice are very skillful finders. A New York man that had been on the run for nearly 20 years was extradited back to the United States last week, ending one of the longest running games of hide-and-go-seek that the Department of Justice has ever been a part of.
According to a Department of Justice press release, Gideon Misulovin, 58, arrived back in the United States on July 17th and appeared in a New Jersey federal court the next day. It was the same courtroom that he had sat in nearly every day of his trial nearly 20 years ago. In March of 1996, a federal grand jury convicted Misulovin of conspiracy to impede and impair the Internal Revenue Service in their efforts to collect nearly $7 million in unpaid fuel excise taxes, money laundering, as well as a count of wire fraud. In fact, Misulovin attended every single day of his trial except for the last. Then, he was gone.
The charges that were levied against Misulovin stemmed from his business activities in the fuel market. The DOJ said in their statement that the evidence established at his trial showed that he and his business associates sold untaxed diesel fuel between 1988 and 1993. Instead of Misulovin’s business paying the fuel excise taxes to the IRS directly, he set up “burn” entities that assumed the tax liability and then fell off the radar, leaving the IRS without a way to collect the tax. This allowed the defendants in the case, including Misulovin, to keep the excise taxes that were collected from purchasers of the fuel. An undercover team of IRS investigators was able to set up an entity that competed with Misulovin’s company and also gathered incriminating evidence.
Once the District Court in New Jersey realized that Misulovin had skipped town, an arrest warrant was issued and over a year later, the judge presiding over the trial sentenced him in absentia to a ten-year federal prison term and three years of supervised release. In addition to the time behind bars, Misulovin was ordered to pay over $250,000 in fines to the IRS and to the State of New York.
Although 20 years had passed since the Department of Justice last heard from Misulovin, they never stopped searching. His name was distributed to international law enforcement agencies, including Interpol. In August of 2014, Misulovin was stopped at an airport in Greece because of an Interpol Red Notice, an alert that is sent to airports around the world when an international criminal is sought. After an extradition hearing earlier this year, he was finally returned to the custody of the United States. He will now begin to serve out his prison sentence in a federal prison.