NEW YORK — Four siblings each received sentences of less than a year in prison Wednesday, down from the nearly four years a judge said they would have faced if they had not cooperated against a lawyer who helped them evade taxes on more than $12 million inherited from their father.
U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel in Manhattan announced the sentences for Suzanne, Yvonne, John and Henry Seggerman after lawyers praised them for the assistance they provided to the government after their years-long schemes to evade the Internal Revenue Service were discovered.
Prosecutors said the siblings cheated the IRS of over $4 million after their father, who earned millions of dollars as a pioneer investor in Asian companies, moved much of his fortune into offshore bank accounts.
Castel described multiple ways in which they evaded taxes, including by carrying cash in small increments to avoid mandatory reporting, funneling money through a charity or shell company and asserting falsely that it was the proceeds of an asset.
The judge gave the longest sentence, six months, to Henry Seggerman, 66, of New York and Los Angeles, saying he had dodged taxes beginning in the 1990s when he brought tens of thousands of dollars in cash into the United States on flights from the Bahamas and Mexico.
His three siblings, Suzanne, 56, of Manhattan, Yvonne, 63, of Cumberland, Rhode Island, and John, 56, of Washington D.C., were each sentenced to four months in prison.
The siblings years ago admitted hiding over $12 million from the IRS. That was about half of their father's estate, after he died in 2001 in Fairfield, Connecticut, at age 73.
Three of the four testified at the trial of the lawyer Michael Little, whom they blamed for teaching them how to evade taxes on the inheritance their father left behind.
Little, 68, a citizen of the United Kingdom and a lawful permanent resident of the United States since 1972, was sentenced to a year and eight months in prison after his conviction. He is scheduled for release in July 2020.
Prior to the sentencing, each of the siblings spoke briefly.
Henry Seggerman said he wanted to express "remorse for my actions."
"I'm very sorry," said Yvonne Seggerman, who has worked since her arrest as a nanny and at a home repair store.
Suzanne Seggerman cried as she expressed sorrow "for the terrible decisions I made after my father died."
And John Seggerman said he was sorry and told the judge "you'll never see me again here."