Ludington Man Paul Patrick Piper Pleads Guilty To Stealing From The Lake Michigan Carferry And Filing False Tax Returns
(STL.News) – Paul Patrick Piper, 58, of Ludington, Michigan, pled guilty today to a felony information dated February 21, 2020, setting forth criminal charges of bank fraud and federal income tax offenses. Piper’s guilty plea hearing took place in the United States District Court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, before Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker.
According to the felony information and plea agreement, Piper served for many years as the financial controller for Lake Michigan Carferry, the company operating the SS Badger ferry between Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Piper defrauded various financial institutions and Lake Michigan Carferry in an amount between $550,000.00 and $3,500,000.00, by overriding normal accounting systems and writing checks directly to himself and to two of his affiliated businesses, Piper Tax & Accounting and Piper Group. Piper either forged the signatures of company owners on these checks or used a signature stamp without the authorization of the owners. Piper hid these transactions in the accounting system by booking these checks to an insurance expense code and by otherwise making false entries to balance company accounts. Additionally, Piper filed false personal income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service because he knowingly failed to include the income he stole from the Carferry, and other income earned from his tax business, on his federal income tax returns. As part of his plea agreement, Piper agrees to pay to the IRS $363,926.00 in past-due taxes, plus penalties and interest.
A sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been scheduled for August 11, 2020, at 3 p.m. before Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker. At that time, Piper faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years for the bank fraud offense and a maximum term of imprisonment of 3 years for filing a false tax return. Piper will also be ordered to pay restitution to his victims and to forfeit certain assets obtained with the proceeds of his criminal offenses. Piper previously forfeited a 2018 Ram Truck, a 2008 Glacier Bay 5th Wheel Recreational Vehicle, and cash in lieu of forfeiture of other assets.