A former Kent pro soccer team owner, already serving a nearly 15-year prison sentence for sexual assault in Arizona and a second sexual assault in King County, received an addition one year and one day in prison for making false statement on a tax return.
Dion Earl, 49, was sentenced Friday, April 9 in U.S. District Court in Seattle, according to an U.S. Department of Justice news release.
During a massive tax fraud scheme, Earl purchased the Kent-based Seattle Impact FC franchise, a professional indoor soccer club that played at the accesso ShoWare Center. 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.
U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said Earl would pay a price by missing critical years with his children, with no way to recapture them.
“You’re either there or you’re not,” Lasnik said.
Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman said Earl, who pleaded guilty to the tax fraud charge in January, received an appropriate sentence.
“This defendant lived a lie in most parts of his life—including his financial life,” Gorman said. “His scheme of phony documents stole more than a million U.S. tax dollars, and another $600,000 from the state of Arizona. It is appropriate that he serves substantial prison time—nearly 15 years—for the sexual assaults, with the additional year of prison time for the tax fraud.”
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, which played in Kent in 2014. Earl used his association with car dealers, Dion Earl’s Total Soccer & Tennis Camps, and the Impact to commit tax fraud.
Earl specifically acknowledged with his guilty plea 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.
All these claims were false, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. During 2012, Earl made less than $45,000, from which he did not have any taxes withheld, and he paid limited mortgage interest. Due to the false claims, Earl obtained a federal tax refund of $414,160.
Even after the IRS began a civil audit of his taxes in 2013, Earl 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, LLC, 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.
“Tax fraud cheats all honest American taxpayers who are paying their fair share and deprives our communities of crucial resources,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Steven Slazinik of IRS Criminal Investigation. “Today, Mr. Earl was held accountable for his illicit personal gain at the expense of his friends, neighbors and community. IRS-CI will continue to protect the integrity of our tax system and in doing so, safeguard the well-being of our communities.”
In total, Earl sought $1.6 million in fraudulent tax refunds and was paid $1,093,534 by the IRS. Earl will owe restitution to the U.S. in that amount, as well as more than $600,000 in restitution to the state of Arizona, as a result of fraudulent tax returns he filed with that state. Earl also agreed to pay Key Bank approximately $100,000 in restitution for submitting false information in 2008 for a home equity line of credit.
“I disappointed Seattle and disappointed my family… I just miss my kids,” Earl said through tears in court.
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.