The LA Times reports today that Burt Reynolds, Dionne Warwick and Sinbad are among the 250 folks who owe $143 million in back taxes, according to the California Franchise Tax Board's list of the top state tax delinquents.
Orange County may not have the same celebrity firepower on the list. I mean, come on, LA's got Sinbad! However, our contingent of dodgers does include a prominent Laguna Niguel attorney who went after the assets of a developer of office towers around John Wayne Airport; a former candidate for governor out of Fountain Valley who went on to do a 27-month stint in federal prison and the long-dead head of Colombia's Medellin drug cartel--or, at least, someone from Huntington Beach with the same name.
The state only gives cities and ZIP codes for the delinquents, so it is difficult to determine who some of the folks are. Feel free to email me or leave a comment if you know anyone on the list at the end of this post and I'll update it.
It's a bold assumption, sure, but it's highly unlikely Huntington Beach's Pablo Escobar, who owes $262,417.38 in unpaid personal income taxes, is the same Pablo Escobar who Forbes listed as the seventh richest man in the world in 1989. Surf City's Pablo Escobar was slapped with a lien in April 2007. Medellin's Pablo Escobar was shot to death by Colombian authorities on Dec. 2, 1993.
But Roland C. Colton, a lawyer with Colton & Roesser in Laguna Niguel, owes $1,283,013.28 in back personal income taxes, according to the state list. He and his partner Paul Roesser found themselves in a San Diego court in 2007 facing fraud, embezzlement and tax-evasion allegations, and Colton also faced a federal jury in San Diego for alleged bankruptcy fraud the following year. The San Diego Reader reported that Colton lived on a $4 million estate in Laguna Niguel and allegedly turned ill-gotten gains into untraceable cashier's checks, one of which was used to pay off a loan on a new $100,000 Jaguar for his wife.
He was on the other side of the legal table in 1999, when his legal team tried to seize the assets of David O. Colton (no relation). David Colton's former company, Colton Financial, forfeited its license to sell securities in 1993 after getting caught up in one of Orange County's costliest real estate scams. About 5,000 investors lost $89 million - for many, their life savings -- in the collapse of Anaheim Hills-based Hill Williams Development Corp., which Colton Financial had promoted. Colton admitted no wrongdoing, while Hill Williams' owner Donald Hill Williams Jr. pleaded guilty in 1998.
Roland Colton and other attorneys representing victims of the Ponzi scheme sought to go after some of David Colton's real estate to settle up. He and wife Linda Colton settled the lawsuits in April of 2000. The amount was not disclosed, only that the Coltons had agreed to make "undisclosed payments" to plaintiffs "over time." Most of those they paid off were Orange County residents older than 70. The couple admitted no liability.
George H. Jesson is better known as "Nick" around the Weekly, where he has popped up in stories over the years regarding his run for governor, his anti-tax group We the People Congress and his tax evasion conviction that landed him at Lompoc. His wife, Trina Thi Jesson, was placed on three years' probation after she promised to pay her share of $437,000 in restitution for unpaid taxes for the years 1997 to 1999. She also promised to repay her share of the cost to investigate the case.
The Jessons owned and operated three corporations in Huntington Beach: Capacitor Specialist International, Inc., No Time Delay Electronics, Inc., and C&D Electronics, Inc. According to court records, they failed to report more than $2.9 million from these corporations on their state income tax returns for 1997-1999, telling authorities they believed that withholding personal income taxes violated the Constitution, and that their employees could request to have no tax withheld from their paychecks.
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According to the state, Mr. Jesson owes $498,591.26 in unpaid personal income taxes.
Each OC member on the state's list of top tax delinquents is listed with city of residence, amount of unpaid personal income taxes and when they were hit with a lien:
Brad J. Harris, Laguna Niguel, $1,331,709.97 (03/04/2008)
Roland C. Colton, Laguna Niguel, $1,283,013.28 (12/21/2000)
Mohamad E. Mohamad, Newport Beach, $1,051,042.98 (11/24/2008)
Thuan D. and Susie T. Phan, Dana Point, $828,588.40 (12/03/2008)
George H. Jesson, Fountain Valley, $498,591.26 (05/31/2007)
Juan S. Figueroa, Irvine, $425,580.81 (03/09/2004)
John R. Luu, Anaheim, $401,632.49 (01/02/2008)
Thu H. Nguyen, Santa Ana, $333,447.95 (12/08/2008)
Jared W. Hannah, Irvine, $292,325.90 (08/23/2001)
Anthony E. Brennan, Huntington Beach , $291,271.25 (12/11/2000)
Mohamad W. Azrak, Laguna Niguel, $288,304.05 (08/11/2007)
Eric A. Clemons, Costa Mesa, $270,439.11 (10/20/2003)
Thanh T. and Hang X. Nguyen, Huntington Beach, $264,230.07 (07/09/2008)
Pablo Escobar, Huntington Beach, $262,417.38 (04/10/2007)
George Melki, Huntington Beach, $260,767.05 (07/28/2008)
Richard A. Yardley, Westminster, $248,827.71 (02/19/2004)