In a landmark case, an Agoura Hills property developer has been sentenced to nearly 3½ years in prison for committing multiple financial crimes, including lying on a bankruptcy petition and filing false federal tax returns. Mark Handel, the 69-year-old developer, failed to disclose over $2.3 million in income on his bankruptcy petition and neglected to report almost $6.9 million in income on his tax returns. Handel, who ran a real estate development company called DTMM Construction Inc., used various methods to conceal his income, such as depositing funds into his wife’s company and disguising it as business expenses. The severity of Handel’s crimes and his blatant disregard for the law have led prosecutors to argue that he believed himself to be above the law. With significant fines and the forfeiture of millions of dollars, this case serves as a warning to others about the consequences of fraudulent financial practices.
Agoura Hills Property Developer Sentenced to Nearly 3½ Years in Prison for Lying on Bankruptcy Petition and Filing False Federal Tax Returns
An Agoura Hills property developer has been sentenced to nearly 3½ years in prison for committing multiple financial crimes, including lying on a bankruptcy petition and filing false federal tax returns. The developer, Mark Handel, was found guilty of concealing income, hiding assets, and failing to report his earnings accurately to the IRS.
Details of the Sentence
Handel has been sentenced to 41 months in federal prison for his crimes. In addition to the prison sentence, he has been fined $20,000 and ordered to forfeit approximately $3,545,712, which represents the proceeds of the sale of real estate in Alameda County. Handel has also been instructed to pay the IRS approximately $1,618,836 in outstanding tax liabilities, including penalties and interest.
Background of the Case
Mark Handel is a property developer based in Agoura Hills, California. He owned and operated DTMM Construction Inc., a real estate development company located in West Los Angeles. In 2015, Handel filed for bankruptcy, claiming that he had no income from 2013 until April 2015. However, it was later discovered that he had earned approximately $2.3 million in income through DTMM Construction Inc. during that period.
Bankruptcy Petition and Concealed Income
Handel made false statements on his bankruptcy petition by claiming that he had no income during a specific time frame. In reality, he had earned a substantial amount of money through DTMM Construction Inc. To further conceal his income, Handel registered the company in his wife’s name but used it to deposit his profits and pay for his family’s living expenses.
Filing False Federal Tax Returns
In October 2016, Handel filed a false federal income tax return for the tax year 2015, failing to disclose approximately $1,096,175 in additional income. Over multiple tax years, from 2010 to 2017, Handel underreported a total of approximately $6,886,877 in income on his federal tax returns. He also falsely reported a net operating loss on his 2017 tax return and underreported his income on his 2018 tax return, resulting in a failure to pay $460,408 in additional tax.
Assets Hidden from Creditors
Handel went to great lengths to hide his assets from his creditors. One of the assets he concealed was his interest in real estate in Livermore, California. This property was later sold for approximately $3,545,712, and Handel agreed to forfeit the proceeds from the sale.
Failure to Report Income on Tax Returns
Handel not only underreported his income on his tax returns, but he also failed to report income altogether. He falsely reported a net operating loss on his 2017 tax return and underreported his income on his 2018 tax return by $1,411,050. As a result, he accumulated outstanding tax liabilities, including penalties and interest, totaling approximately $1,618,836.
Motivation Behind the Crimes
Prosecutors argued that Handel’s crimes were not borne out of desperation but were the result of meticulous planning and calculation. They stated that Handel believed he was above the law and even bragged to others about his company name, DTMM Construction Inc., standing for “Don’t Touch My Money.” His actions demonstrated a disregard for the legal and financial obligations that come with being a property developer.
Investigation and Prosecution
The investigation into Handel’s financial crimes involved the IRS Criminal Investigation and the FBI. The Office of the United States Trustee also provided assistance during the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas F. Rybarczyk of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.
In another recent case, a Downey tax preparation company owner was sentenced to 2½ years in prison for knowingly preparing hundreds of false tax returns. This individual caused a loss of more than $5 million by fraudulently preparing federal income tax returns.
For more information or inquiries about this case, please contact Public Information Officer Ciaran McEvoy at email@example.com or by phone at (213) 894-4465.