N. Michigan movie theatre owner pleads guilty to tax evasion

A northern Michigan movie theatre owner has pled guilty to one count of tax evasion.

Elaine Dawson, of Bellaire, owned five cinemas in Bellaire, Petoskey, Gaylord, Mackinaw City and Cheboygan, according to court records.

Dawson evaded corporate and personal taxes by "routinely under-reporting the number of patrons who had bought movie tickets, and under-skimmed off the cash from the unreported sales for her personal use", according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles Jr.

Although Dawson pled guilty to evasion for the tax year of 2006, she admitted that she deliberately failed to pay approximately $988,366 in taxes between 2004 and 2010, according to the press release.

In addition to a sentence of up to five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, she will be required to pay her unpaid tax balance, the release says.

"This country recognizes many rights and privileges, but it also requires responsibility," said U.S. Attorney Miles. He went on to say that the U.S. Attorney's Office "will not stand by when someone skirks that responsibility for her own profit, leaving others - many of them far less fortunate that Ms. Dawson - to shoulder the nation's burdens."

Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez of IRS Criminal Investigation said Dawson chose to live a "lavish" lifestyle. "Dawson knew the law and deliberately concealed income in order to paying part of the taxes she owed."