Don Tankersley, an owner and former CEO of Van Buren-based White Dairy Ice Cream and Tankersley Foods, has pleaded guilty to two counts of tax fraud and faces up to six years in prison. Tankersley retired from the company in October 2018.
Duane Kees, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, said Friday (Sept. 19) that Tankersley, 76, made the plea Thursday in the U.S. District Court before U.S. Judge Timothy Brooks. A sentencing date has yet to be set.
According to Kees’ office, Internal Revenue Service investigators discovered that Tankersley siphoned funds from White Dairy (WDIC) by having checks created from WDIC accounts and made out to non-existent trucking companies. Tankersley collected and deposited the checks into his personal bank accounts, or directed others to either deposit the checks into his personal bank accounts or cash the checks for his personal use.
In 2013, Tankersley falsified the corporate tax returns for WDIC by causing the checks to non-existent trucking companies to be listed as corporate expenses. This reduced the corporate tax liability for WDIC and caused a tax loss for the 2013 WDIC corporate tax return. Also in 2013, Tankersley did not report the checks listed above as personal income, despite many of them being deposited into his personal bank accounts. This false omission from his personal tax returns also caused a tax loss.
Tankersley has agreed to pay restitution to the IRS for a total tax loss of $188,198.
White Dairy is a privately held corporation owned by the Tankersley family and was founded in 1928. The company was expanded in 1985 by supplying products to the U.S. military through what is now known as the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA). According to the company, White Dairy was the first supplier to successfully ship ice cream products to the overseas military commissaries.
The company underwent a $4 million expansion in 2013 that added an additional 28,000-square feet of freezer space, a new refrigerated dock and new customer service offices. The expansion increased Tankersley’s distribution center to approximately 175,000-square feet.
At the time of the announced expansion, Tankersley employs 220 people at its Van Buren facility and services numerous clients, including schools, nursing homes and restaurants, within a 225-mile radius of its Van Buren facility.