Real Estate

Las Vegas Developer Sentenced in $1.9M Tax Evasion Case

Not everyone agrees with the late renowned jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who said, ““I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization.”

Las Vegas developer Scott H. Lawrence is firmly in the disagree camp, having been handed a sentence of one year and one day in prison for failing to pay $1.9 million in federal income taxes, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Lawrence, the owner of Turn Two Inc., a Nevada real estate company, engaged in a series of deceptive maneuvers between 2009 and 2019 to evade tax collection efforts.

Among his tactics, Lawrence diverted funds from his wife’s paycheck, deposited earnings into a corporate account beyond the reach of the IRS and concealed a secondary business account from authorities. He also orchestrated the creation of a new business, D Lawrence Hospitality LLC, to channel personal income and impede the IRS’s efforts to reclaim the couple’s outstanding taxes.

The scheme further involved sending misleading correspondence to the IRS and making tax payments from an intentionally overdrawn bank account.

Beyond the prison term, U.S. District Judge Anne R. Traum ordered Lawrence to serve two years of supervised release and pay roughly $1.9 million in restitution to the government.

Lawrence is hardly the only real estate figure caught attempting to dodge his tax bill.

In September, two New Jersey construction company owners pleaded guilty in federal court to tax crimes.

In the first case, Salvatore Caravella, Jr. of Kinnelon, pleaded guilty to failing to report nearly $700,000 in income he received from his construction and real estate companies, including 2-C Construction Company Inc., Bella Construction of North Jersey LLC and 203 Harrison Street LLC, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Caravella’s conduct resulted in a tax loss of about $236,000. He faces a maximum of five years in prison, as well as restitution and penalties. No date was set for his sentencing.

In the second case, Zeki Donuk, of Landing, pleaded guilty to tax evasion, employment tax crimes, aiding the filing of false tax returns and making false statements in bankruptcy related to his business, Titan Builders, which later became Titan Steel Construction, according to a DOJ press release.

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