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Former Bellevue developer and girlfriend given jail time, restitution order for tax evasion
A former Bellevue developer and his long-time girlfriend were sentenced Nov. 22 in U.S. District Court for 25 counts of tax evasion and false statements made in a scheme to avoid taxes on more than $23 million in income that will mean paying more than $2.7 million in restitution on back taxes.
Winston Bontrager, 64, and his girlfriend, Pauline Anderson, were convicted following a four-week trial in July where prosecutors outlined the couple’s scheme to falsify tax returns from 2004-09 and failing to report more than $23 million in income while also moving more than $10 million into foreign bank accounts in Anderson’s name to hide assets from the Internal Revenue Service.
The IRS determined during the timeframe the crimes were committed, the couple bought a luxury condominium in Bellevue and spent $500,000 on an extensive remodel, owned a $325,000 wine collection, a $1.2 million home in southern California, a $186,000 Bentley and spent more than $3.4 million in credit card purchases.
“You were a one man wrecking ball in the lives of many people,” said U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones before handing down an 11-year sentence to Bontrager with three years of supervised release. “… You believed you had immunity from restitution and tax obligations... You lived the lifestyle of the rich and famous while lying and cheating to avoid tax obligations.”
Bontrager was previously convicted in 1983 for bank fraud and in 1994 for defrauding the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System and the IRS of more than $687,000. In 1994 he was sentenced to 40 months in prison. He did not make his restitution payments from this prior conviction.
Anderson, 65, was sentenced to 39 months in prison and will likely be deported back to Australia after serving her sentence.
“Mr. Bontrager refused to pay court-ordered restitution to his victims from a previous fraud conviction,” said Kenneth Hines, special agent in charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in Seattle. “Mr. Bontrager clearly failed to learn his lesson and continued to commit fraud. In his latest scheme, he defrauded his new business partners and the American taxpayers. He also enlisted the help of Ms. Anderson to conceal his fraud and ill-gotten gains.”
The couple has been in federal custody since June 2012 and were indicted in March of that year.
A financial litigation team will be seeking out assets belonging to the couple in order to satisfy the $2.7 million in restitution, said Emily Langley with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, however, Bontrager and Anderson reportedly drained most of their offshore accounts a long time ago.