13 Oct Randolph Morris’s 11-Count Indictment on Tax Fraud
Randolph Morris played at the University of Kentucky from 2004 to 2007, where he was named All-SEC (Southeastern Conference.). In 2010, he entered the NBA, where he played for the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks as a center until 2010.
On February 24th, 2021, Carlton S. Shier, IV, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Cincinnati Field Office, announced in a joint statement that Morris has been indicted on federal charges of wire fraud and making false statements on his federal tax returns. The alleged indictment covers tax years between 2010 and 2017. During this time, the now 35-year-old Morris allegedly failed to report more than $13 million that he earned while working as a professional basketball player in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).
Failure to Report Foreign Earnings
According to the 11-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury sitting in Lexington, Morris’s wire fraud involved submitting false income information for tax years 2015, 2016, and 2017. During this time, he was playing for the Beijing Ducks for the CBA. Morris allegedly failed to report any of his earnings from the Chinese team, resulting in tax debt amounting to $400,000. The remaining tax fraud counts cover failing to report earnings between the years 2010 and 2017.
Morris allegedly earned $13 million while playing professionally in China in a separate report, resulting in an estimated $4 million in taxes. The Federal Tax Credit would have been reduced to $1.5 million had Morris filed his taxes correctly. These allegations are separate from the state tax charges he faces in Kentucky, where Morris established residence in 2010.
IRS agents interviewed Morris via an audio app, as he was in China at the time for basketball reasons. He claimed to be “aware of the fact that U.S. citizens are required to report all income from all sources worldwide.” He also claimed to have thought he reported a correct figure for his earnings in China on his U.S. tax returns. However, in a conflicting statement, Morris said he “didn’t know income earned in China should be reported here because it would be double-taxed.”
‘Not Guilty Plea’ and a Possible 80-Year Prison Sentence
Morris has pleaded not guilty and denies the allegations. According to Morris’s attorney, the former basketball star had not intended to commit tax fraud or not pay his taxes properly. Supposedly, Morris misunderstood his contract and may have entrusted the wrong people early in his career when he started to earn. Morris also prepared his tax returns using an online tax preparation program, which triggered an investigation on interstate wire fraud, coupled with failing to report foreign income.
To date, Morris’s appearance in federal court has yet to be scheduled. Should he be found guilty of the charges, Morris may face a fine of up to $250,000 for each count of wire fraud and a 20-year prison sentence. As for the false statements on his tax returns, Morris can face a maximum prison sentence of three years for each count. If found guilty on all charges in the 11-count indictment, Morris could be looking at a prison sentence of 80 years!
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