By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
What is Fort Lauderdale’s Roger Stone trying to hide?
For 15 years, the IRS has been dunning ex-President Donald Trump’s political confidant and Stone’s wife, Nydia, for failing to pay assessed income taxes, penalties and interest for the years 2007-2011 and 2018 that now total a whopping $1,997,398.60.
In April 2021, the government finally sued to collect after Stone held them off for years by offering but not actually paying. And Roger’s been dodging ever since, offering vague answers to inquiries and failing to hand over financial records sought by the government, arguing the Justice Department already had that information from his accountant.
Justice’s tax division, of course, subpoenaed and obtained the accountant’s records. That they want to get their hands on Stone’s records, too, strongly suggests they think Stone provided false information to the accountant. If so, that would be a felony.
Court papers indicate that Stone’s attitude changed abruptly two weeks ago, three days after Fort Lauderdale U.S. District Judge Rodolfo A. Ruiz II ordered he and his wife to fork over various documents and better answers to government interrogatories. That’s when the Stones’ lawyer, Brian R. Harris of Tampa, announced that the “Stone Defendants” had submitted a settlement offer that, “if accepted, will resolve all claims and issues in this case.”
No details of that settlement offer have been made public. The other Stone defendants are the Bertran Trust – a 2019 revocable trust in which Nydia is the sole grantor and trustee and she and the couple’s two children are the beneficiaries – and Drake Ventures, a Delaware company co-owned equally by the Stones.
WILL IRS ACCEPT STONE SETTLEMENT OFFER?
“The government alleges that the Stones, while owing over a million dollars in back taxes, used Drake Ventures as their alter ego to shield their assets” and “fund a lavish lifestyle,” say government documents. “The government further alleges that, in the face of impending litigation, the Stones fraudulently transferred funds to purchase the Stone residence, and that the Bertran Trust holds this residence as the Stones’ nominee.’’
The residence is on NE 18th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. Broward property records say that Nydia Stone and Bertran Trust paid $525,000 for the residence on March 27, 2019.
The judge has given the government, represented by Justice’s tax division trial attorney Christopher Coulson, until July 8 to decide whether to accept the Stones’ settlement offer.
Settling a tax case with the Justice Department is no easy thing. The department has a 113-page manual devoted to the subject.
In cases involving “non-routine, sensitive, important or novel legal issues,” settlements must be approved by the Deputy Attorney General, currently Lisa O. Monaco. That description would appear to include the Stone tax case, given that it looks as though he’s a subject of the Justice’s ongoing criminal investigation of sedition and conspiracy arising out of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol involving far-right Oath Keepers and Proud Boys with whom Stone been publicly linked.
WHERE’S THE MONEY COMING FROM?
Where will Stone get the money to pay off his large tax debt? Without a big discount from the feds, things don’t look promising.
A story three years ago in Money Inc. said Stone’s personal wealth was estimated at $5 million in 2018. “This was the result of his successful career in politics and as an author. Sadly, that is where [it] started going wrong for this man… Stone has said that the reason his finances have taken such a dive and he is now broke is because of the Mueller investigation into the interference in the 2016 election.” Stone’s net worth was then estimated at just $50,000.
Stone was convicted of seven felonies and sentenced to 40 months in prison, but in July 2020, days before Stone was to surrender, his old friend President Trump commuted his sentence. Trump later erased Stone’s felony convictions with a pardon.
Drake Ventures hauled in $266,000 in political consulting fees from five congressional candidates since April 2021. Three of Roger Stone/Drake Venture’s five far-right Republican clients have already gotten crushed in primaries – one, California’s Ronda Kennedy finished third in a nonpartisan primary behind a drag queen named Maebe A. Girl.
The other two Stone clients are Martin Hyde, the QAnon alternative to conservative incumbent Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, and Matt Gaetz, the Pensacola Republican congressman under investigation for possible sex trafficking (a charge he has denied) who was recently named in testimony before the House Jan. 6 Committee as being among a number of lawmakers who sought eleventh-hour pardons from President Trump.
LOBBYING FOR PARDONS FOR FELONS
Stone isn’t registered to lobby in Washington and is no longer a foreign agent. His company, Ikon Public Affairs, was working for the Secretary of Intelligence for Argentina in the early 2000s.
Still, Stone may have made money lobbying for pardons for felons. The Washington Post reported last month that newly released records by the National Archives to the Jan. 6 Committee “may include evidence” of Stone’s lobbying.
The story said that on Jan. 6, “as thousands gathered on the Ellipse just south of the White House,’’ Stone was involved in “helping felons get requests for pardons on Trump’s desk before he left office. Stone’s activity was part of a bustling market at the time, in which well-connected lobbyists, lawyers and others brokered large fees to seek clemency for their clients.
“In his Willard (hotel) suite, away from the camera but still wearing a mic, Stone spoke on the phone with a man representing someone named Henry. The man said they were ‘willing to pay up to $100,000,’ but stressed: ‘Everything would have to be legal.’
“ ‘Actually, it is legal,’ ” Stone said of such arrangements, accurately.
“ ‘If I didn’t have a really good chance to getting this done, I wouldn’t take the money,’ Stone said, claiming he was to meet officials involved in the process that evening. ‘I’m going to have a little bit of input into the final list,’ he said,” the story quoted Stone.
‘CONNECT WITH YOUR FAVORITE STAR’
If that doesn’t generate enough cash, Stone’s website hawks t-shirts, books, autographed rocks (stones) and MyPillows with a special discount from Trump pal, owner Mike Lindell. For $20, you can even buy a copy of his presidential pardon – signed by Stone.
Or if you want to just give Stone money for free, you can donate on site to the Roger Stone Legal Defense Fund. Note the disclaimer: “Contributions are not deductible for federal income tax purposes. Under the Internal Revenue Code, all contributions to the Roger Stone Legal Defense Fund are considered gifts to Roger Stone.”
If Stone is desperate for cash, it seems most apparent in his online registration on Cameo, “where you can connect with your favorite stars.” Roger’s personalized video costs $100. A “meet me live” connection: $300. Or you can just send Roger a message for $3.
That approach seems aimed at the same kind of people who bought into Stone’s appearance in Myrtle Beach, SC last month as part of the Reawaken America Tour with pal former general, and Trump-pardoned ex-felon, Michael Flynn.
Here’s what Stone told a sold-out audience: “And yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is a Satanic portal above the White House. You can see it day and night. It exists. It is real. And it must be closed and it will be closed by prayer…It popped up after Joe Biden became president and it will be closed before he leaves.”
Stone’s speaker’s fee is not known.