Dion Earl, 46, who is currently in jail in Arizona awaiting trial on sexual assault charges, now faces tax fraud charges too
Former Seattle Impact indoor soccer team owner Dion Earl has been indicted on five counts of orchestrating a federal tax fraud scheme worth $1.1 million.
Earl, 46, currently jailed on sexual-assault charges in Arizona pending a September trial, was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on charges that, between 2008 and 2014, he misrepresented income earned and mortgage interest paid in order to falsely claim inflated tax deductions. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.
The indictment covers the 2014 period when Earl started up the Impact professional soccer team, serving as owner, coach and player on the Major Arena Soccer League team. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Earl falsely claimed to have earned $765,000 from operating the Impact, as well as a tennis camp and other business ventures that year.
The onetime Seattle Pacific University soccer star and former Seattle Sea Dogs indoor player was stripped of the Impact franchise in early 2015 after the Seattle Times reported his extensive legal history of sexual assault and harassment allegations made against him by women. Earl had been accused of sexual assault by two of the Impact’s female dance team members in September 2014, leading to that troupe being disbanded and the majority of the team’s players walking out on him after only one regular season game.
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King County prosecutors elected not to bring criminal charges against Earl at the time, though the dancers and other office staffers later won a civil lawsuit against Earl for nearly $1 million in damages and legal fees. The Times reported in January that Kirkland police had reopened a 2009 rape investigation into Earl and had forwarded the case to King County prosecutors for review. The prosecutor’s office said Thursday that the case remains under review and that no charges have been filed.
The Kirkland case involved a massage parlor attendant who claimed she’d been raped by Earl during an appointment. Earl initially denied any intimate contact with the woman, then later claimed to police they’d had consensual sex.
The case sat open and unsolved without a conclusion for years, until the 2014 allegations by the Impact dancers. Kirkland police subsequently closed the case citing a lack of evidence, then reopened it last December after Earl’s October arrest in Arizona on charges of having sexually assaulted two babysitters looking after his children.
Kirkland police collected DNA from Earl after his Arizona arrest in an attempt to match it with fluid found on clothing items taken as evidence in the 2009 rape investigation. The DNA came back a match and the case was forwarded to prosecutors soon after.
Earl this week sought bail in his Arizona case, but was denied. No arraignment date has been set on the tax fraud charges, given his pending trial in Arizona.
The tax fraud allegations against Earl state that he sought refunds of $1.6 million and was paid $1.1 million. Internal Revenue Service investigators auditing Earl found that he would vastly overstate his annual income earned and tax deductions paid at source so that he could claim refunds he wasn’t entitled to.
The indictments say that, during the 2011 tax year, Earl claimed to have earned $880,000 working for five different car dealerships. He claimed the dealers withheld $330,000 of his income at source for tax purposes and also “falsely” claimed to have made mortgage interest payments on four different properties to reduce his tax liability.
He then received a tax refund of $329,198.
According to the indictment, Earl earned less than $80,000 that year, had no tax withheld and paid limited mortgage interest.
In addition to the possible prison sentence, federal prosecutors are seeking up to $100,000 in assets forfeiture from Earl.