Developer Wirth Pleads Not Guilty to Tax Evasion

Wirth, his ex-wife, and their tax preparer are reportedly accused of funneling money out of The Wirth Companies and using it for personal expenses, including the building of an 18,000-square-foot mansion on Lake Minnetonka.

Local real estate developer Jeffrey Wirth on Friday pleaded not guilty to charges of tax evasion, according to a report in the Pioneer Press.

Wirth, who leads Brooklyn Center-based The Wirth Companies; his ex-wife, Holly Damiani; and their tax preparer, Michael J. Murry were indicted on August 18. All three were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and face additional allegations involving the filing of false tax returns.

The charges are tied to money that was allegedly funneled out of The Wirth Companies and used for personal expenses, including the building of an 18,000-square-foot mansion on Lake Minnetonka, according to the Pioneer Press. Prosecutors say that the expense wasn't recorded in business or personal income tax returns.

The indictment also indicated that Wirth and Damiani reported wage income of $12,000 or less annually between 2002 and 2006 even though “the fair-market value of their labor was significantly higher than that,” according to the St. Paul newspaper.

Damiani and Murry reportedly pleaded not guilty last week, but Wirth hadn't retained an attorney by then.

But on Friday, Wirth showed up in federal court in St. Paul with two attorneys from Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, the newspaper reported. U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Keyes, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Otteson, and Christopher Madel of Robins Kaplan reportedly agreed that an April trial date would be likely.

In court, a discussion arose about an “outstanding grand jury subpoena,” according to the Pioneer Press. Otteson reportedly said: “To the extent there may be additional charges, we can't comment on that.” He reportedly declined to answer further questions, citing the fact that grand jury proceedings are secret.

The Lake Minnetonka mansion is reportedly on the market for $3.5 million.

To read more about Wirth's court appearance and the charges against him in the Pioneer Press, click here.