A Doylestown man who didn’t pay employee taxes for 30 years was sentenced Thursday in federal court to 26 months in prison, two years’ supervised release and ordered to pay $683,015 in restitution.
Doylestown is a village in Columbia County between Rio and Fall River.
Norman Vick, of Vick Construction Co., did not withhold taxes for Social Security or unemployment compensation contributions on behalf of his employees resulting in some workers not receiving those benefits, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Graber wrote the court.
The IRS paid the employees their withheld taxes even though it never received contributions from Vick, creating a “double whammy” for the IRS, Graber said.
Vick ignored tax collection efforts by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue beginning in 1986. The IRS sought liens against Vick in 1991 and the state began to levy his bank accounts in 2009, according to Graber.
To conceal assets from the IRS and the state, Vick titled a house, a $60,000 airplane and airplane hangar and trucks in other people’s names, Graber said.
Vick’s attorney Gregory Dutch said the state was immediately seizing the deposits Vick made into his bank accounts so he quickly re-deposited them into employee bank accounts so the employees could be paid.
Dutch said Vick was a self-taught, hard-working family man. He became a reliable subcontractor and volunteer for a youth aviation organization. He didn’t live a lavish lifestyle and used a private plane to travel to Texas and Oklahoma for his construction business, Dutch wrote the court.
Dutch did not recommend a specific punishment for Vick, acknowledging that it could involve some prison time.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge James Peterson, Vick did not offer a reason for not paying his taxes for so long only attributed it to, “my ignorance or laziness (or) negligence.”
“In the end, I know that it simply comes down to the fact that I knew that a small businessman had obligations and I simply didn’t face up to them,” he wrote.
Although Vick’s non-compliance with tax law extended back three decades, he only was charged for the 2011-16 tax years.
Dutch said Vick has been current with his state and federal tax obligations since 2016.
Graber asked Peterson to impose a prison term of 24-30 months, the calculated advisory federal sentencing guidelines for the amount of loss in the case.
Typically, tax law violations don’t become criminal matters, Graber said, but Vick ignored civil collection efforts for years, leaving criminal prosecution as the only option.
Peterson struggled with sending Vick to prison, saying it would prevent him from repaying the IRS and state plus the government would incur the cost of incarcerating him.
Graber said the sentence is not about the restitution. Instead, it should send a message to Vick and other businessmen that if they don’t pay their taxes, they’ll face consequences.
Peterson ultimately agreed, and said a prison sentence was warranted due to:
- The “extraordinary length of time that the non-compliance” occurred
- Vick’s concealing assets from tax collectors
- Vick’s “resolute resistance” to civil enforcement
Peterson also said prison was necessary because he wasn’t certain that Vick wouldn’t re-offend given how long he didn’t comply with tax laws.
“Our tax laws will be respected and violations will be appropriately punished,” Peterson said.
Peterson gave Vick until Feb. 28 to report to prison, to allow him to complete a construction job in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.