REPORT FROM THE US ATTORNEY, DISTRICT OF HAWAII – Michael Eric Stewart, age 73, a former Maui County resident, was sentenced to 24 months in prison yesterday in federal court for six years of tax evasion, from 2001 to 2006. Chief United States District Judge Susan Oki Mollway also ordered that Stewart pay restitution of $476,265 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that according to documents filed in court, Stewart, owner and operator of Infinity Mortgage on Maui, earned income from soliciting mortgage loans from 2001-2006 but did not file tax returns from 1997 through 2006 until August 2007. Court documents further reflect that the IRS asserted that Stewart owed a total of $476,265 in taxes for those years.

The indictment alleged that Stewart transferred income earned through his mortgage business into the bank account of a nominee entity Stewart established in Nevada. The indictment also alleged that from 2001 to 2006, Stewart transferred $788,000 into the Nevada entity’s bank account, eventually transferring over $345,000 into his Hawaii bank account, from which, according to the plea agreement, he wrote checks totaling $280,000 payable to himself or cash. According to the indictment, Steward moved to Panama City, Panama in 2008.

The case resulted from an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Kenneth M. Sorenson.

Kenneth J. Hines, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in Hawaii, said: “Our tax system depends on everyone playing by the rules but sometimes people think the rules don’t apply to them or they make up their own rules. Today’s sentencing sends a message that tax evasion is against the rule of law and that the IRS is committed to making sure that everyone plays by the rules.”