Cave Springs man draws 2 years in federal prison for tax evasion

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 1,121 views 

A former general manager at multiple car dealerships in Northwest Arkansas was sentenced in Fayetteville on Monday (June 5) to two years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for evading federal income taxes over seven years.

Jonathan M. Wichman, 36, of Cave Springs, pleaded guilty to the tax evasion charge on Jan. 23 this year.

U.S. District Judge Tim Brooks presided over the case. He also ordered Wichman to pay restitution totaling more than $448,000. The restitution includes $445,715 to the U.S. Treasury and $12,997 to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

According to court documents and statements made during the hearing, Wichman served as a general manager at various car dealerships in Northwest Arkansas from 2014 to 2020, earning over $2.3 million in wages. Despite receiving correspondence from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) inquiring about his unfiled tax returns, Wichman failed to file timely tax returns for any of those years.

The IRS assessed Wichman’s unpaid 2014 and 2016 taxes in May 2019, which he did not pay. In 2019, Wichman finally filed tax returns for 2014 to 2018 but made no payments. Additionally, in October 2018, Wichman accessed his employer’s online payroll system and deliberately caused the dealership to withhold no federal income or employment taxes from his wages in 2019 and 2020. He once again failed to file returns for those years.

During the investigation, Wichman admitted knowing he owed past due taxes to the IRS. He claimed that commercial software used for tax preparation consistently indicated a large amount of taxes owed, and due to a lack of funds, he chose not to file his returns. However, investigators discovered evidence that Wichman had available funds to settle his tax obligations. Between 2018 and 2021, Wichman engaged in cash transactions exceeding one million dollars at various casinos and banks. Furthermore, he spent over $513,000 on luxury vehicles, a travel trailer, and a Florida vacation from 2014 to 2022.

Wichman’s evasion of income taxes amounted to $276,244, with $263,615 owed to the IRS and $12,628 owed to the state of Arkansas.

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas announced the sentencing.

The IRS-Criminal Investigation, in conjunction with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Mohlhenrich prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.