Former Kent pro soccer team owner pleads guilty to tax fraud

Dion Earl tried to claim $1.6 million in tax refunds; currently serving time for sexual assaults

Dion Earl, FILE PHOTO

Dion Earl, FILE PHOTO

A former Kent pro soccer team owner pleaded guilty Monday, Jan. 11 in U.S. District Court in Seattle to making false statements on a tax return so he could attempt to claim more than $1.6 million in tax refunds.

Dion Earl, 48, currently is serving time for sexual assault in Arizona and a second sexual assault in King County.

During a massive tax fraud scheme, Earl purchased the Seattle Impact FC franchise, a professional indoor soccer club that played at the ShoWare Center in Kent in 2014.

According to the plea agreement, between 2008 and 2014 Earl used false documents to lie about his income, the amount of tax dollars withheld by employers and his mortgage deductions so that he could attempt to claim tax refunds of more than $1.6 million, according to a Jan. 11 news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend Earl serve a one-year consecutive federal sentence following his 12-year sentence in Arizona and 33-month consecutive sentence in Washington state, for a total sentence of nearly 16 years in prison.

The actual sentence is up to U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik who has scheduled sentencing for April 9.

In the 1990s Earl was a soccer star at Seattle Pacific University. Between 2008 and 2014, Earl worked in car sales in Washington state and Arizona and owned Dion Earl’s Total Soccer & Tennis Camps and the Seattle Impact, FC. In his plea agreement, Earl admitted that he used his association with car dealers, Dion Earl’s Total Soccer & Tennis Camps, and the Seattle Impact to commit tax fraud.

Earl specifically acknowledged that, on his 2012 Form 1040 tax return, he claimed that (1) he made $1.6 million working for eight different car dealers, which withheld more than $660,000 of his wages for taxes, and (2) his wife was employed by Dion Earl’s Total Soccer & Tennis Camps, which paid her $240,000 and withheld $51,000 in taxes, and (3) he made $520,000 in mortgage interest payments on four different properties.

Earl admitted that, in fact, all these claims were false. That is, Earl admitted that during 2012, he made less than $45,000, from which he did not have any taxes withheld, and he paid limited mortgage interest. Pursuant to these false claims, Earl obtained a federal tax refund of $414,160.

Earl also admitted that even after the IRS began a civil audit of his taxes in 2013, he continued to make false claims and provide false information to the IRS. For example, Earl admitted that, as late as 2015, he falsely claimed he and his wife made $765,000 from Dion Earl’s Total Soccer & Tennis Camps and the Seattle Impact FC, from which the businesses withheld $180,000 in taxes. In making these false claims, Earl sought a tax refund of $137,554. That refund was not paid, however.

In total, Earl sought $1.6 million in fraudulent tax refunds and was paid $1,093,534 by the IRS.

In the plea agreement, Earl also agreed to pay $600,000 in restitution to the state of Arizona, as a result of fraudulent tax returns he filed with that state. And, while Earl did not admit to submitting false income information to Key Bank in 2008, in order to qualify for a home equity line of credit—as was alleged in the indictment—in the plea agreement, Earl agreed to make approximately $95,000 in restitution payments to Key Bank.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.

The Seattle Impact became the Tacoma Stars in 2015 when Lane Smith bought the Major Arena Soccer League franchise. Earl later moved from Kent to Arizona.

Earl received a 33-month sentence in December in King County Superior Court for third-degree rape. Earl pleaded guilty in September to the 2009 rape in Kirkland.

An Arizona jury convicted Earl in 2019 of sexual assault, sexual abuse, kidnapping, assault and public sexual indecency in connection with two women who babysat his children in Mesa. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Cohen sentenced Earl in October 2019 to 12 years in prison.


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