A federal court decision in East St. Louis this month has landed a South Roxana businessman in prison for 18 months. The man was charged with bribing military officials, dodging taxes and attempting to hide assets from his estranged wife. The 53-year-old man, who was convicted on felony charges of tax evasion and bribery, said he filed false tax statements because he feared that a divorce judge would fail to enforce the conditions of his prenuptial agreement.

The man's attorneys acknowledged that he had set out to win his divorce case by any means necessary. Prosecutors chose to focus on the man's tax evasion rather than his marital problems, however, characterizing the man as a greedy and frivolous professional who owned multiple homes, cars and boats. The man was accused of multiple counts of tax evasion, including a scheme in which he attempted to pass off a $500,000 speedboat as a piece of construction equipment.

Media reports show that the man pleaded guilty to the charges during a hearing on June 21, 2012. The formal charges against him included tax evasion and making an illegal payment.

In addition to the prison time, the man will be required to pay more than $226,000 to the IRS for owed taxes. He will also be responsible for a $52,400 fine, which is the estimated cost of his imprisonment and subsequent court-ordered monitoring. The man admitted to falsifying his 2005 tax documents and bribing a car dealer on behalf of a military contracting official.

The man chose to plead guilty and negotiate for a plea bargain, a move that likely reduced his sentence when compared with the possibilities from a jury trial. In addition, the man has reportedly been cooperating with attorneys and investigators, so he may receive an even further reduction in his sentence. Prosecutors say they are satisfied with the sentence, and they anticipate the man's continued cooperation with other government investigations.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Businessman gets 18 months in prison for bribery and tax evasion," Robert Patrick, Jan. 17, 2013