As tax season looms, some unexpected charges emerged in a case that is already widely condemned by the public. Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the murder of George Floyd, is facing charges for tax evasion. Chauvin and his wife, Kellie are each facing nine counts of felony tax evasion, CBS News reports. Kellie Chauvin filed for divorce in May 2020 after her husband was fired and charged in Floyd’s killing, though the filing is pending. Now, the couple both face charges of underreporting their joint income for five years, from 2014 to 2019, according to a criminal complaint.
Investigators started looking into the Chauvins in June 2020 for failing to file individual income tax returns on time for three years, from 2016 to 2019, and for filing fraudulent tax returns from 2014 to 2019, the Washington County prosecutor's office said in a statement. Over that course of five years, the Chauvins reportedly failed to claim more than $460,000 in income, including at least $96,000 of Derek Chauvin’s earnings from off-duty security work.
“When you fail to fulfill the basic obligation to file and pay taxes, you are taking money from the pockets of citizens of Minnesota,” said Washington County Attorney Pete Orput. “Our office has and will continue to file these charges when presented. Whether you are a prosecutor or police officer, or you are doctor (sic) or a realtor, no one is above the law.”
Police have long taken money directly from the pockets of citizens in a number of ways, which is also the crux of ongoing protests against racist policing that started following Floyd’s murder in May. Organizers have made demands to defund and abolish the institution of policing that currently exists, in favor of funding community needs including mental healthcare, education, and housing.
In addition to his charges in the murder of George Floyd, which include unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter — for which the maximum penalties could land Chauvin in prison for 75 years at most — he is now also facing nine felony counts of tax evasion, each with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. If convicted, Derek and Kellie could face 45 years in prison, as well as a possible $90,000 fine.
According to Orput, the investigation of the couple “was in the works well before” Floyd’s murder. Minnesota Department of Revenue officials had contacted the county attorney’s office in June with their findings on the matter, after realizing that Chauvin, who was making international headlines for killing Floyd, was also caught up in tax fraud.
Orput told Star Tribune that Chauvin’s tax troubles are “run of the mill, but it just happens to be the [police officer] sitting in Oak Park [Heights prison]. … The guy owes us money, and I want to collect. I don’t care about his other problems.”
Neither Kellie Chauvin’s divorce attorney nor Derek Chauvin's criminal attorney returned requests for comment on the tax charges, according to The Associated Press.