(The Center Square) – A Fayetteville man faces up to three years in prison after he pleaded guilty Tuesday to failing to report nearly $25 million in income.
Christopher Scott Harrison, 56, was in federal court facing a charge of willfully filing a false tax return. Authorities allege he siphoned nearly $25 million from the human resources benefits business Ebenconcepts while serving as chief financial officer and majority owner, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“This businessman tried to dodge paying millions in federal taxes by disguising personal luxuries as business expenses. Harrison diverted company funds to buy nearly a million dollars worth of bling, including an estimated $145,000 Rolex watch, $102,000 Cartier diamond necklace, and $85,000 Tiffany bracelet,” federal prosecutor Michel Easley said. “Wealthy tax cheats cannot be allowed to line their pockets at the expense of hardworking American taxpayers.”
Court records show that beginning as early as 2012 Harrison spent company funds for his benefit, which included the jewelry, as well as $300,000 for a swimming pool at his residence. When the spending was uncovered, Harrison filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which triggered a review of his finances.
An accounting firm retained by the bankruptcy trustee eventually discovered almost $25 million in personal expenditures that Harrison reported as business expenses between tax years 2012 and 2018.
Harrison’s tax returns did not include the income, which resulted in nearly $6 million in uncollected federal income taxes, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The investigation into Harrison’s tax fraud was led by the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation division, while Assistant U.S. Attorney David Beraka prosecuted the case.
“The IRS enforces the nation’s tax laws, but also takes particular interest in cases where someone does not pay their fair share in taxes by intentionally not reporting all of their income,” said Donald Eakins, special agent in charge of IRS Criminal Investigations in Charlotte. “IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to work with our law enforcement partners by lending its expertise in these complex financial investigations.”
Chief U.S. District Judge Richard E Myers II accepted Harrison’s guilty plea. He faces up to three years in prison, restitution to the IRS and a potential fine.
Meyers is expected to sentence Harrison in the spring, according to prosecutors.