Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Seggerman Siblings (4 of them) Sentenced for Offshore Evasion (7/16/19)

I have previously written on the offshore account saga of the Seggerman family, principally as it relates to the prosecution of their lawyer-enabler, Michael Little.  (My blogs are listed at the bottom of this blog entry.)  The Seggermans were a prominent family.  The Seggerman siblings (4 of them), whose deceased father started the evasion, were sentenced last week.  Three were sentenced to 4-months, and one was sentenced to 6-months.  I post some links to news reports on the internet and in some cases bold-face items that I found particularly interesting:

Aaron Elstein, In surprise, New York's first family of tax evasion sentenced to prison (Crains New York  (6/26/19), here):
A federal judge Wednesday imposed prison sentences of four to six months on the four adult children of deceased Wall Street money manager Harry Seggerman, who bequeathed them a $12 million inheritance hidden in a secret Swiss bank account. 
The siblings funneled the money into the U.S. tax-free through shell companies or a fraudulent foundation. One would return from annual trips to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with just under $10,000 in her pocket, and had her husband and daughter do the same, so they wouldn't have to declare the cash to U.S. customs officials. 
"There is a strong need to deter others from the conduct that went on here," U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel declared as he sentenced the family members. Estate taxes could have eroded roughly half of the father's fortune. 
Henry Seggerman, 66, got six months in prison. Henry inherited his father's money management business and is a former movie producer who helped bring Crocodile Dundee to American audiences. 
Judge Castel imposed four-month sentences on Yvonne Seggerman, 63, who used to run a nonprofit playhouse in Rhode Island; Suzanne Seggerman, 56, former president of the nonprofit Games for Change; and John Seggerman, 55, a former aide to Sens. John and Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island. 
The eldest sibling got a longer sentence because he was involved in tax evasion for a longer time, the judge said. The Seggermans had all pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government after they were caught. 
The expressions and body language of prosecutors suggested they were surprised the Seggerman offspring got prison time at all, given that the government had not recommended any. Prosecutors had praised the Seggermans for testifying last year at the trial of their adviser, British lawyer Michael Little, who is serving a 20-month sentence. 
Judge Castel took note of the cooperation and commended the heirs for their philanthropic and volunteer activities with immigrant and school groups. He agreed they are unlikely to be repeat offenders. But he also observed that a poor person who committed tax fraud would probably go to prison, as would a poor person who committed immigration fraud. 
"There are not two federal systems of justice," he said.
Andrew Denney and Bruce Golding, Siblings sentenced for elaborate Swiss bank inheritance scam (NY Post 6/26/19), here.

Four of investor Harry Seggerman’s six children had a choice when he died in 2001 with more than $12 million illegally stashed in Swiss bank accounts — declare their share and pay taxes or keep the scam going. 
They chose the latter. 
But when the racket was finally exposed, the finger-pointing began — with sibling snitching on sibling and all of them ratting out their late dad’s British lawyer. 
When the dust settled, they wound up in Manhattan federal court for sentencing on Wednesday, and scored remarkably light sentences for their long-running scheme. 
The eldest, Henry Seggerman, 66 — who knew about his dad’s tax fraud before Henry died — got the stiffest punishment: just six months in prison. 
A former producer of low-budget horror films, including “Leprechaun 3,” Henry also worked for Paramount during the 1980s, when he was instrumental in obtaining the rights to “Crocodile Dundee” so it could be shown in the US, where it became a smash hit. 
His siblings — Yvonne Seggerman, 63, Suzanne Seggerman, 56, and Edmund Seggerman, also 56 — were sentenced to four months each. 
Under federal guidelines, they had faced 46 to 57 months, but Judge Kevin Castel cited their cooperation with prosecutors as a reason for the big breaks. 
In a polite understatement, Castel called the intra-family snitching “peculiar in my experience.”
Matthew Russell Lee, Seggerman Siblings Get Months Jail Time From SDNY Judge Castel Who Asks Why They All Got Plea Deals (Inner City Press 6/26/19), here.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge P. Kevin Castel looked behind the government's 5K1.1 cooperation letters and asked why, for example, Suzanne Seggerman's husband with his $50,000 account and daughter who moved undeclared cash from Europe, were not prosecuted. 
The Assistant U.S. Attorneys present did not answer that question. Judge Castel mentioned the academic pedigrees of each sibling, noting that Edmond John Seggerman worked for two U.S. representatives from Rhode Island and Suzanne used her annual trips to Davos to smurf cash back into the U.S.. 
At the end of the more than an hour proceeding, Judge Castel sentenced Henry Seggerman to 180 days in prison and a $10,000 fine, for having known longer of his father's offshore accounts, and the other three siblings each to 120 days in jail, no fine. All got three years Supervised Release, to end when the yet to be specified restitution is paid. 
Judge Castel made a point of saying that poor people, if they lie to get Section 8 housing or immigration benefits probably go to jail - so why not the Seggerman's? Where's the beef? 
In the trial of Michael Little for cooperation in which the siblings expected to get mere time served sentences, Suzanne Seggerman was asked by Little, representing himself, "Direct your attention to page 3. So the first line of that highlighted section is, 'I met with two lawyers yesterday to talk about the beef.' Now 'beef' is a term of art, isn't it, in your code?"
Suzanne Seggerman: A term of art?
Little: Yes. It's a code word, isn't it?
Suzanne Seggerman: It is.
Little: It means illegal money, doesn't it?
Suzanne Seggerman: It does." 
Prior Federal Tax Crimes Blog Entries involving the Seggermans (reverse chronological order):

  • Michael Little, British/US Lawyer, Convicted for Offshore Account Enabler and Personal Income Tax Charges (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 4/22/18), here.
  • Michael Little, British/US Lawyer, Convicted for Offshore Account Enabler and Personal Income Tax Charges (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 4/22/18), here.
  • British Lawyer Charged in Swiss Bank Mess Related to UBS Account (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 5/11/12), here.
  • Lawyer, Alleged Offshore Account Enabler, Loses Motion to Dismiss Indictment (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 5/6/17), here.

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