Hiding cash payments from the IRS for luxury car purchases resulted in conviction
This appeal followed the conviction of Geovanys Guevara for causing a car dealership in Miami to file Form 8300s with the United States Treasury Department that contained false statements concerning Guevara’s identity as the individual who provided cash payments over $10,000 to buy four luxury cars: a Rolls Royce, a Lamborghini, a Porshe, and a Farrari. The Bank Secrecy Act requires any person engaged in a non-financial trade or business to file a Form 8300 with the United States Treasury. The form reports any cash payment over $10,000 received by the business or trade. It requires the business to verify and record the name and address of the person from whom the cash payment was received along with social security numbers and taxpayer identification numbers of any person on whose behalf the cash payment is offered.
At trial the Government presented a witness who testified that Guevara paid him $1,000 to go to the car dealer and put title for two of the four cars in his name. The government also presented Guevara’s interview in which he admitted that he was the true owner of all four cars. He admitted purchasing the cars and placing two of the titles in the name of his friend. He also admitted that the car dealer owner knew that Guevara was paying for theses vehicle. He said he bought the cars using money from a therapy clinic he owned and admitted paying his friend to go to the dealership to take title to the cars.
The government offered into evidence the transcripts of the Form 8300 that were in the form of a set of five computer-generated summaries created by an unidentified IRS employee. The original Forms were not offered into evidence. The government also put on a car salesman from the Miami Lakes Auto Mall who said that Guevara had purchased a Camaro for cash at his dealership, and he advised Guevara that the IRS 8300 form must be filled out if he buys a car for more than $10,000 in cash. A Miami police officer testified that he conducted a routine traffic stop of Guevara when he was driving the Rolls Royce. Another witness observed him driving the Rolls Royce and the Lamborghini. An agent testified that his review Guevara’s financial records to complete an income restructuring of his income showed his income for three years was in excess of $600,000, but Guevara had applied for a low-income tax credit during those years.
The court rejected Guevara’s argument that the evidence was insufficient because there was no evidence that he ever tried to persuade, influence, or coax the car dealership to file the Form 8300 containing misstatements regarding his ownership of the cars. The court found Guevara knew the form had to be completed, that he solicited his friend to be the straw buyer, and that the 8300 forms did not identify Guevara as the person on whose behalf the transaction was completed. The income restructuring showed that he purposely sought to evade the currency reporting requirement to avoid the possibility the report could lead to an IRS investigation for income he was not reporting on his taxes.
The court did agree with his Miami criminal defense lawyer’s argument in reversing the trial judge’s decision to enhance the sentence for obstruction of justice. the court found the enhancement was incorrect because the judge failed to give any factual reasons nor was any factual basis apparent in the record.