Derek Chauvin, ex-officer charged in George Floyd's death, accused of tax evasion

Derek Chauvin and his estranged wife have been charged with failing to file tax returns and underreporting income.
Image: US-CRIME-RACISM-ARREST
Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin kneels on the neck of George Floyd in a still from video.Darnella Frazier / via AFP - Getty Images

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By Phil Helsel

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd, has been charged with tax evasion.

Chauvin's wife, Kellie May Chauvin, who has filed for divorce, was also charged, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said in a statement Wednesday.

The Chauvins are accused of failing to file income tax returns and pay state income taxes in Minnesota. Officials said the couple underreported and underpaid taxes and failed to pay sales tax on a vehicle.

It was not clear from online court records Wednesday night whether either had an attorney in the tax case.

Emailed requests for comment from the attorney representing Derek Chauvin in the murder case relating to Floyd and an attorney listed as representing Kellie May Chauvin in a divorce proceeding filing were not immediately returned Wednesday night.

Derek Chauvin, 44, is the white police officer seen in video kneeling on the neck of Floyd, who is Black, on May 25 as Floyd said he could not breathe. Floyd died, and Chauvin was fired and has been charged with second-degree murder and other counts. Three other officers were also fired and criminally charged.

In the tax evasion case, both Chauvins are charged with six counts of aiding and abetting taxes-false or fraudulent returns, and three counts of aiding and abetting taxes-failure to file return, according to court documents.

The pair did not file Minnesota income tax returns for 2016, 2017 or 2018, according to a statement of probable cause filed in the case.

Returns for several years did not list income from Derek Chauvin's off-duty security work or Kellie Chauvin's photography work, according to the document.

Court documents list the total underreported income from 2014 through 2019 as $464,433 and say they owe taxes, penalties and interest totaling $37,868.

They also are accused of buying a 2018 BMW X5 in 2018 for around $100,200 from a Minnesota dealership but registering it in Florida though it was actually used in Minnesota, avoiding a higher state sales tax.

The couple has owned a home in Windermere, Florida, since 2011. Kellie Chauvin said that she and Derek Chauvin changed their residency to Florida because it was cheaper to register a car, according to the criminal complaint documents.

She told investigators that they live in Minnesota but that she usually spends December and January in Florida, according to the complaint. Her husband did not always spend those months there because of work, she said.

Kellie Chauvin, 45, in May said she was filing to divorce after 10 years of marriage. A divorce petition says she intends to change her name.

She filed shortly after Floyd's death, which sparked protests around the country and calls for policing reform and racial justice.

Kellie Chauvin in 2018 when she was vying for the title of Mrs. Minnesota America.Jean Pieri / Pioneer Press via AP file

Investigators started an investigation into the couple's taxes in June, Orput, the Washington County prosecutor, said.

"When you fail to fulfill the basic obligation to file and pay taxes, you are taking money from the pockets of citizens of Minnesota," Orput said in a statement.

"Whether you are a prosecutor or police officer, or you are doctor or a realtor, no one is above the law," the prosecutor said.

The complaint says that letters were sent to both Chauvins between 2019 and 2020 about the missing tax returns, and those show that they knew they had to pay Minnesota income tax. They also warned of potential criminal penalties.

She "told investigators that she had not filed income tax returns because 'it got away from her,'" the criminal complaint reads.