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Business Owners Plead Guilty to Looting Payroll Taxes

Business Owners Plead Guilty to Looting Payroll Taxes



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The owners of employee-leasing firms are facing fines and imprisonment for diverting millions of dollars in designated payroll taxes into jewelry, luxury cars and a home.

Sentencing was set in federal court Feb. 15 for Steven Christensen and Diane C. Christensen, who settled a 31-count indictment by pleading guilty to tax evasion and filing false employer returns last week, U.S. Attorney Paul Warner said.

The couple ran the employee leasing and payroll businesses Wasatch Management Services, Paragon Business Solutions of America and Professional Staffing Advantages from 1995 to 1998.

In the plea deal, the Christensen said they "knowingly diverted money that Wasatch Management Services had collected for the payment of its employer tax liability" on behalf of companies leasing workers from Wasatch.

The Christensens said they diverted up to $7.5 million in tax deposits, using the money to build a home and buy luxury vehicles, stocks and jewelry.

The couple agreed to refund a bank for other losses. The amount has yet to be determined, but in a civil case in state court, First Utah Bank said the Christensens "exercised unauthorized dominion, control and/or use" over $12 million in business accounts.

The Christensens each face up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 at sentencing.

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Information from: Deseret Morning News, http://www.deseretnews.com

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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