Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ellefsen trial date delayed

The trial of Carthage brothers Brian and Mark Ellefsen on charges of defrauding the federal government, originally scheduled for Feb. 9, has been pushed back until at least April 27, following a 15-minute session today in federal court in Springfield.

The Ellefsens were indicted in April 2007 for tax fraud. Their arrests were part of an ongoing federal investigation of the Aegis Company of Palos Hills, Ill. Aegis officials were indicted in April 2004 and charged with defrauding the U. S. Government of more than $68 million.

In a May 30, 2007 court filing, the Ellefsens' attorney noted the indictment "is linked to a nationwide Internal Revenue Service/U. S. Department of Justice project aimed both civilly and criminally at the Aegis Business Trust System, the Aegis Company, its promoters, attorneys, accountants and purchasers/investors."

The scope of the investigation was noted in the Department of Justice news release from April 2004:

Six of the defendants allegedly participated in a nearly decade-long conspiracy to market and sell sham domestic and foreign trusts through The Aegis Company, based in suburban Palos Hills, to some 650 wealthy taxpayer clients throughout the United States to hide hundreds of millions of dollars in income, resulting in a tax loss to the United States of at least $68 million, making the case one of the largest of its kind. Following a lengthy undercover investigation by IRS agents, code-named "Operation Trust Me" and the seizure of roughly 1.5 million documents, computer files and related materials, a federal grand jury in Chicago today returned a 51-count indictment against six of the defendants.

The federal indictment said Brian Ellefsen used diverted funds to "pay for cash withdrawals and charges made on the offshore credit card, payments for (his) personal expenses, payments on loans owned by (him), expenditures for the construction of (his) family home, and expenditures for the purchase of another residence located on Table Rock Lake, Missouri."

The Ellefsens misled the accounting firm preparing their income tax returns, according to the indictments, causing false income tax returns to be filed.

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