The former Minneapolis police officer convicted of the 2020 killing of George Floyd pleaded guilty to two counts of tax evasion on Friday, admitting he had not filed Minnesota income taxes for two years because of “financial concerns.”
Derek Chauvin specifically pleaded guilty to two counts of assisting and abetting by failing to file tax returns to the state of Minnesota for the 2016 and 2017 tax years.
Chauvin appeared in a Minnesota court via Zoom from a federal prison in Tucson, Arizona, where he is serving his sentence on a state murder conviction for killing Floyd and a federal charge of violating Floyd’s civil rights.
He stood in a room and walked around before Friday’s hearing began. When the judge asked Sheridan Hawley of Washington County why he didn’t file his Minnesota tax returns, he told the judge, “The real reason is some financial concerns at this time.”
He also said, “I had to raise significant funds from my family to pay for last year’s return and frankly I’ve been playing to catch up since.”
He was sentenced to 13 months in prison on the tax charges, but had served longer and received credit for time served.
Floyd died on May 25, 2020 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against the black man’s neck for more than nine minutes. Floyd, who was handcuffed, repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. The murder, which was videotaped by a bystander, sparked global protests as part of a broader reckoning of racial injustice.
Shortly after Floyd’s killing, Chauvin and his then-wife were indicted on multiple counts for allegedly failing to report their income to the state of Minnesota and failing to file Minnesota tax returns. The complaints alleged that the Chauvins underreported their combined income by $464,433 from 2014 to 2019.
With unpaid taxes, interest and fees, the now-divorced Chauvins owe the state $37,868, according to court documents.
The tax investigation began in June 2020 after the Minnesota Department of Treasury received information about suspicious filings from Derek Chauvin. The agency launched an internal cursory review and then opened a formal investigation.
The investigation eventually found that the Chauvins did not file state tax returns for 2016, 2017, or 2018, and did not report all of their 2014 and 2015 earnings. When tax returns for 2016 through 2019 were filed in June 2020, the Chauvins did not file a return, including all of their income for those years, the complaints said.
The complaints said Chauvin was required to pay taxes on income from off-duty security work he performed at multiple jobs between 2014 and 2020. Investigators believe he made about $95,920 from one job during those six years that were not reported.
His ex-wife, Kellie May Chauvin, pleaded guilty on February 24 to two counts of abetting her failure to file tax returns for 2016 and 2017. Her plea agreement saw three years of probation and restitution with no more than 45 days before community service. The other charges were dropped. Hawley said she will be sentenced on May 12.
Kellie Chauvin filed for divorce shortly after Floyd’s death, and a judge approved the divorce last February on terms that have been kept under wraps. The judge rejected an initial settlement proposal that would have given Kellie Chauvin most of her property and money, fueling speculation that the Chauvins were trying to protect their assets.
Documents in the tax case said the couple owned a second home in Florida and claimed they also failed to pay proper sales tax on a $100,000 BMW purchased in Minnesota in 2018.
Chauvin was convicted of state murder and manslaughter in 2021 and is serving 22 1/2 years in the case. He also pleaded guilty to one federal charge of violating Floyd’s civil rights and was sentenced to 21 years. He serves the penalties at the same time.
Three other officers have been convicted on federal charges of violating Floyd’s rights. Two of them were also convicted of aiding and abetting manslaughter, while the third is awaiting a judge to decide his fate on the state charges.