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Criminal Corner

We are committed to closing California's $6.5 billion tax gap, defined as the difference between tax that is owed, and tax that is paid. Our special agents work cooperatively with law enforcement agencies throughout California to uncover illegal behaviors that contribute to the tax gap. These include underreporting income, overstating deductions, failing to file returns, failing to pay taxes due, and making illegal cash payments to employees.

Tax fraud is not a victimless crime. You can report suspected tax fraud by calling FTB at (800) 540-3453.

Missing woman's ex-husband charged with tax evasion, other crimes

Originally reported in the Visalia Times-Delta

On June 4, Hanford Police arrested the primary suspect in the disappearance of Debbie Hawk, a Hanford woman missing since June of last year. Dave Hawk, the missing woman's ex-husband was arrested for a variety of crimes, none of them related to Debbie Hawk's disappearance. Hawk was arrested on suspicion of tax evasion, possession of child pornography and other crimes, Hanford police announced Friday.

Confiscated documents and computers belonging to Dave Hawk contained what police and other investigating agencies are calling child pornography. Evidence also revealed that Dave Hawk embezzled money from trusts established for the couple's three children, according to Hanford police.

Search warrants were also served at the residence and business of Mary Royer, who police believe is Dave Hawk's girlfriend.

Royer shares a bank account with Dave Hawk that was used to dispose of some of the trust assets, police said. Royer has not been arrested, and police said the extent of her involvement, if any, in the alleged crimes remains to be seen.

It is believed that Debbie Hawk, a pharmaceutical representative whose clients included doctors' offices in Visalia, was kidnapped between 10:30 p.m. June 12, 2006, and the following morning.

The charges announced Friday are unrelated to the kidnapping, but Hanford police said Dave Hawk remains the primary suspect in that case. Dave and Debbie Hawk had been involved in an acrimonious dispute over child custody, visitation, and support shortly before her disappearance, said Hanford Police Chief Carlos Mestas.

The trusts established by Dave Hawk on behalf of his children were in excess of $250,000, Mestas reported, adding: "These trusts...had been looted."

According to Mestas, Dave Hawk was using the trust assets for living expenses, and filed documents under penalty of perjury that lied about the source of income.

In addition to charges of tax evasion, embezzlement, and possession of child pornography, Dave Hawk faces charges of grand theft, perjury, and using false documents to obtain a loan.

The Franchise Tax Board, the Kings County District Attorney's Office, the California Department of Insurance, the California Department of Justice, the FBI, and the Kings County Sheriff's Department assisted in the investigation.

Anyone with information regarding the disappearance of Debbie Hawk is encouraged to call the Hanford Police Department at (559) 585-2540, or the Hawk Tip Line at (559) 381-9853.

Embezzlement, tax evasion send woman to state prison

A Los Angeles woman was sentenced on June 8 to three years and eight months in state prison on felony charges of embezzling more than $356,000 from her employer and filing false state income tax returns.

Lana Michael, AKA Svetlana Djangarian, 34, was employed as a supervisor at the Glendale office of a community employment-training center. The center is an agency contracted to provide training, job placement, and public funds for transportation to public assistance recipients. Michael had computer access for the issuance of fraudulent warrants.

According to court documents, she was able to authorize the issuance of Los Angeles County warrants on closed cases to other co-conspirators, who conspired to negotiate the illegally obtained warrants, and split the proceeds with her. Michael filed false state income tax returns for 2001-2003 by not reporting the embezzled income.

Michael, who was out on bail, was ordered to pay restitution of more than $62,700 to the FTB in unpaid tax, penalties, and interest.