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Kenai pilot, guide gets more than 3 years in prison for tax evasion

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Kenai resident Michael A. Spisak was found guilty of tax evasion during his years working as a commercial pilot and hunting and fishing assistant guide, the Alaska U.S. District Attorney announced in a press release on Thursday.

Spisak, 50, had worked as a pilot since the 1980s, and operated his business under several different names, including Bellair, Inc., and TransNorthern Aviation. In 2005, the IRS charged him with more than $200,000 in penalties for failing to pay payroll taxes.

Instead of paying the penalties, he worked to transfer his assets to others, as the Peninsula Clarion reported on the 2011 indictment. He allegedly used a variety of methods to conceal his assets, and then submitted an Offer in Compromise to the IRS to settle the $200,000 for $1,000, under the premise he had minimal income and assets.

In October of 2012, the U.S. District Attorney’s office presented evidence against Spisak including placing assets in other people’s names, paying creditors but not the U.S. government, creating an overseas bank account in Belize, providing false or incomplete information to the IRS and his tax preparer, and transferring funds though his children’s bank accounts.  

Upon sentencing, Chief United States Judge Ralph R. Beistline called Spisak a “fundamentally dishonest” person. “Everyone wants to pay as little as legally possible to the IRS,” but his action showed he has “no respect for the law.”

Spisak was sentenced to 44 months in prison. He was taken into custody on Oct. 29, 2012 and has remained incarcerated ever since.

“This sentencing reaffirms that if you engage in tax evasion you are putting yourself at risk of prosecution, penalties, and prison,” saud Tamera Cantu, assistant special agent in charge of IRS criminal investigation in Alaska.