According to an article in the Tampa Bay Times, Richard Goodwill, IRS Special Agent, found himself in an uncomfortable position, despite aiding the IRS in collecting $40 million to pay a large tax bill from a complicated case involving Cast-Crete, Inc. and its business players.
Things began to unravel when the CEO of the company, Ralph Hughes, died suddenly of a heart attack in 2008. The IRS would approach Shea Hughes, his son, only a year later. Shea’s fortune would vanish in the coming years as the unscrupulous tax practices of the elder Hughes and his business partner, John D. Stanton III, came to light.
Goodwill testified on the third day of Stanton’s criminal trial to being hesitant to take the money that Shea Hughes’ father had worked so many years to accumulate, but was adamant that it had to be done. Shea Hughes was likewise resigned to the fact that taxes have to be paid.
The trial, which is currently being presented in U.S. District Court, has shed light on a partnership between Hughes and Stanton that drained millions of dollars from their company. The amount drained from the company was so great that Caste-Crete was unable to pay its extensive tax bill after its CEO passed away.
Stanton is now facing several charges that could land him in prison for up to 15 years in prison if he is convicted, including failing to pay both his personal taxes and taxes on the company, as well as obstructing an audit as it was being conducted by the IRS.
While Caste-Crete made over $160 million dollars in the years from 2001 to 2007, the company only paid about $93,000 in taxes. In information provided to the jury by prosecutors, the court also learned that Mr. Stanton was apparently the executive in charge of reporting profits and filing tax returns. Now the company owes over $100 million dollars in taxes. The number includes penalties and interest that have accrued in the previous years.
Goodwill’s testimony revealed that both Stanton and Hughes had collected almost $50 million dollars each from the company from the years 2005 through 2007. Because most of the company’s profits were erased by the money the partners took, there was nothing left to pay the tax bills such profits would ensure.
As a result, the IRS looked to the trust belonging to the Hughes family, arguing that any dividend payments to Hughes should only have been paid after the IRS received its money. According to the IRS agent, Shea Hughes was gracious as the money was taken from the trust.
Unfortunately, the legacy of a Hughes’ father, a man once lauded as a pillar of the political community in Florida, is quickly turning dark, as the reality of his financial and political dealings is coming to light. Hughes had a role in siphoning off profits from his own company, as well as paying for leeway in front of county commissioners with side money.
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