A California accountant has pleaded guilty in a case in which he and an attorney have been charged with evading millions of dollars in taxes earned from the sale of public shell companies.

Accountant Steven Wright pleaded guilty last Friday to one count of tax evasion for the 2000 tax year, and admitted to evading $387,000 in taxes for 2000 to 2002. Craig Shaber, an attorney from San Diego, was arraigned Monday before another judge on charges of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and tax evasion for the same years.

According to prosecutors, between 1999 and 2002, the two men acquired control of numerous public shell companies by installing nominee officers and directors and submitting false registration statements and reports to the SEC and the National Association of Security Dealers. Shaber and Wright allegedly earned millions of dollars from the sale of the public shell companies and deposited the proceeds into bank accounts in the names of Bonaventure Capital Ltd. and one of Shaber’s client trust accounts.

Shaber allegedly used the proceeds to purchase numerous luxury items, including a McDonnell Douglas helicopter, a World War II-era Tigercat airplane, a Plymouth Prowler, a Porsche 996 Turbo and artwork. Wright also purchased significant assets, including property, a BMW X5 luxury SUV and artwork.

If convicted on all counts, Shaber faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million. Wright’s sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 9. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

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