An Anchorage plastic surgeon faces multiple counts of wire fraud and tax evasion after federal prosecutors say he tried to hide millions of dollars from his ex-wife during divorce proceedings.
According to documents filed by prosecutors Thursday in U.S. District Court, Michael Brandner, 65, devised a four-year scheme to defraud his wife after she filed for divorce in 2007. He created sham investments overseas, filed false tax returns and misled Internal Revenue Service special agents, court documents say.
Shortly after the divorce was filed, Brandner moved millions of dollars to Central America by car to hide assets from his wife of 28 years. He left the country without notifying friends, family or his workplace and drove from Alaska to Panama with five cashier's checks worth more than $3 million, documents say.
Once there, he transferred the money to Dakota Investments of CA, Inc., an entity incorporated in Panama that he fully controlled. Brandner moved more money between different financial institutions before transferring it to Panama. He told the attorney who represented him during the divorce that he cold not convert his Dakota investments into cash until 2013, making them unavailable during the divorce settlement, documents say.
Prosecutors further accuse Brandner of concealing unreported taxable income to the IRS. Court documents say he underreported his income by more than $1.25 million in 2008. He made false statements about his ownership of offshore funds, documents say.
Brandner was arrested in 2013 in Anchorage after being charged with seven counts of wire fraud. He posted $25,000 bail a few days later and was released, court documents say.
He also faces three counts of tax evasion. His next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday at 11 a.m. He could spend up to 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and five years for each count of tax evasion, prosecutors say.
Brandner's attorney did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Reach Tegan Hanlon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4589.R
By TEGAN HANLON