October 24, 2020

Couple heads to prison after business paid for mortgage, football tickets and more, but didn’t pay payroll taxes

An Alabama couple sentenced to prison and ordered to pay more than $500,000 in restitution for failure to pay payroll taxes for a construction business they owned.

The collective 20-month sentence was announced by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town for the Northern District of Alabama and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Holloman.

U.S. District Judge Liles C. Burke sentenced Walter Michael Williams, of Crane Hill, Alabama, to 13 months in prison and Amy Butler Williams, also of Crane Hill, to 7 months in prison for failing to pay over payroll taxes.

According to court documents and information provided to the court, Walter Michael Williams and Amy Butler Williams operated Dixie Steel Erectors (DSE), a commercial construction business in Hanceville, Alabama.

Walter Michael Williams, president and owner of DSE, and Amy Williams, bookkeeper and office manager of DSE, were responsible for withholding and paying over DSE’s payroll taxes.

During 2012 and 2013, DSE accrued payroll tax liabilities and the Williamses withheld those taxes from the pay of the business’s employees, but willfully failed to pay over the withheld amounts to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Instead, the Williamses caused DSE to pay for a number of their personal expenses, including mortgages, alimony, and football season tickets.

The Williamses also failed to file personal tax returns, and failed to file corporate tax returns for DSE.

“Employers who lead their employees to believe that they are properly paying their taxes, but instead pocket that money for their own greed and personal use, are not above the law,” Town said. “The imposition of prison sentences in these cases show that the Justice Department remains steadfast in its commitment to seek equal justice under the law, and that access to power and wealth will not protect white collar criminals from the bars of a federal prison.”

In addition to the term of imprisonment imposed, the Williamses were ordered to serve three years of supervised release and to pay restitution in the amount of $502,683.23 to the IRS.