A Little Rock man on Friday surrendered his former business, the Chicot Game Room in Mabelvale, and his former Chenal Circle home to the federal government in the course of pleading guilty to charges of tax evasion and operating an illegal gambling house.
Allan Siebert, 75, made an unscheduled appearance before U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes, agreeing to waive indictment and enter guilty pleas to both charges, which were filed in open court.
In May, IRS agents raided the gambling hall at 14124 Chicot Road and filed a petition to seize it and Siebert's two homes, one at 44 Chenal Circle and the other in Orange Beach, Ala. The petition said undercover Little Rock police officers had made a series of visits to the "illegal gambling business" since January 2016, and had observed "a large number of casino-style video gambling devices."
It also alleged that Siebert had used illegal gambling proceeds to buy the business, the Chenal Circle house and a condominium in Alabama.
As part of his plea agreement with the government, Siebert will pay $331,821 in restitution to the IRS, according to U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland. Siebert also agreed to forfeit the Game Room property and his Chenal Circle home, and more than $1 million representing the proceeds of the illegal gambling operation, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office.
The proceeds include $955,741.26 from the sale of the Alabama condominium, about $100,000 seized from two bank accounts, and $15,895 in currency seized from the Game Room on May 8, according to orders of forfeiture Holmes signed Friday.
"For nearly a decade, this defendant broke the law, but today his illegal conduct caught up with him," Hiland said in a prepared statement. "Mr. Siebert not only defrauded the United States, he also exploited the hundreds of people he took money from over the years with his illegal gaming machines. This case should send a message to the Eastern District of Arkansas that our office will not tolerate this type of behavior."
Siebert owned and operated the Chicot Game Room from at least August 2007 through early May, using various gaming devices that were illegal under the laws of Arkansas, according to the news release from Hiland and Tracey Montano, special agent in charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division's Nashville, Tenn., field office.
It said that between January 2012 and October 2016, Siebert evaded paying $331,821 in federal income tax that he owed by withholding cash from his business deposits, funneling business receipts into his personal properties and causing his accountant to prepare false income tax returns for tax years 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
"No matter the source of income, all income is taxable, including illegal gambling proceeds," Montano said. "Everyone has a responsibility to file correct and accurate tax returns. ... We will vigorously investigate those individuals who knowingly and willfully evade their tax obligation."
When sentenced at a later date, Siebert will face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 for tax evasion, and up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000 for conducting an illegal gambling business.
Siebert has been in the news off and on for more than two decades in connection with purported gambling operations.
In the petition filed in May, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron McCree said bank records showed that between June 2012 and October 2016, cash was used to purchase more than $500,000 in cashier's checks in Siebert's name, and the cashier's checks were used to make payments on Siebert's loans at another bank.
The petition and an affidavit by an IRS criminal investigator said Siebert bought the Chenal Circle house in 2001 for $695,000. The documents said the initial mortgage was paid off Jan. 25, 2005, but Siebert later took out and paid off several other mortgages, as well as a home-equity line of credit, using the house as collateral.
Nearly $280,000 of the money used to pay off the home-equity line of credit was traced to Chicot Game Room funds, the petition said. It also said Siebert paid $950,000 for the condominium on May 4, 2012, making a down payment of $304,750 and taking out a $645,250 mortgage from Regions Bank that was paid off in January 2015, mostly with money traceable to the Game Room.
Metro on 10/21/2017
Print Headline: Casino, tax case in LR gets plea; IRS to take real estate, cash