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Derek Chauvin (Hennepin County Sheriff via AP, File)
Derek Chauvin (Hennepin County Sheriff via AP, File)

Chauvin faces 9 tax fraud counts

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin and his wife, Kellie May Chauvin, have been jointly charged with nine felony income-tax charges, the Washington County Attorney’s Office says.

Each count carries a maximum five-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.

Derek Chauvin, 44, who already is in custody at the Oak Park Heights state prison, is a suspect in the May 25 killing of George Floyd. However, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said Wednesday, the tax charges are unrelated to the homicide case against the Minneapolis cop.

“I’m not doing it as just deserts or revenge or any of that nonsense,” he said. “I’m doing it because he broke the law. And so did his wife.”

The Chauvins, who reportedly are divorcing, have owned three homes in Woodbury and Oakdale since 2014 and have both held jobs in Minnesota over that period, according to the criminal complaint filed in Washington County District Court on Wednesday.

They are accused of failing to pay Minnesota income taxes from 2016 to 2018, and underreporting their income on 2014, 2015 and 2019 returns, according to the complaint.

Derek Chauvin worked full-time as a Minneapolis cop during that period, and also worked security at Minneapolis’ now-destroyed El Nuevo Rodeo restaurant and other businesses during off-duty hours over that period, the complaint says.

Kellie May Chauvin, 45, worked as an Eden Prairie real estate agent and photographer in Minnesota during the time covered in the complaint.

The couple has owned property in Windermere, Florida, since October 2011. In 2018, they bought and registered a BMW at a Minnetonka auto dealer, listing the Florida house as their residence while also presenting the dealer with Florida driver’s licenses. There is no homestead exemption on the Florida property, the complaint says.

The state Department of Revenue referred the case to Washington County after the agency made repeated attempts to collect the taxes owed, Orput said. After an investigation, he said, he decided to prosecute.

“Everybody owes their fair share of taxes,” Orput said. “Some folks choose not to pay them and the burden lands on the rest of us. And that’s truly unfair.”

A person is considered a Minnesota resident if he or she spends at least 183 days in the state during the year, and the person (or their spouse) rents, owns, maintains or occupies an abode suitable for year-round use. There is also a minimum income threshold.

“Investigators determined that the Chauvins’ income was significantly over the threshold requirements and that they were Minnesota residents as they lived, worked and had significant connections to the state of Minnesota,” the complaint states.

Orput said Chauvin’s status as a suspect in Floyd’s death has nothing to do with his decision to prosecute the case.

“Everybody’s got to be held to account,” he said. “My position is that nobody is above the law.” He said he has made no decision yet whether to seek prison time for the Chauvins.

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About Kevin Featherly

Kevin Featherly, who joined BridgeTower Media in mid-2016, is a journalist and former freelance writer who has covered politics, law, business, technology and popular culture for publications and websites in the Twin Cities and nationally since the mid-1990s.

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