MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The former Minneapolis police officer who is serving his sentence for the 2020 murder of George Floyd pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of tax evasion.
Derek Chauvin pleaded guilty to two counts of aiding and abetting by failing to file Minnesota state tax returns for the years 2016 and 2017. Chauvin appeared in a Minnesota courthouse before Washington County Judge Sheridan Hawley via Zoom from a federal prison in Tucson, Arizona. He was standing in a room pacing back and forth before the hearing began.
Chauvin and his now ex-wife were charged with multiple counts of underreporting their income and failing to file tax returns. His ex-wife previously pleaded guilty to two counts.
“The real reason,” Chauvin told the judge, “are some financial concerns at the time.”
Chauvin had previously been convicted on state manslaughter charges for the killing of Floyd and federal charges for violating the black man’s civil rights.
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 claimed he could not breathe. The killing, which was recorded on video by a passerby, has sparked protests around the world as part of a larger reckoning over racial injustice.
Shortly after Floyd’s killing, Chauvin and his then-wife were charged with multiple counts for allegedly underreporting their income to the state of Minnesota and for failing to file Minnesota tax returns. The complaints alleged that from 2014 to 2019, the Chauvins underreported their joint income by $464,433.
With unpaid taxes, interest and fees, the Chauvins, who have since divorced, owe the state $37,868, according to court documents.
The tax investigation began in June 2020, after the Minnesota Department of Revenue received information about suspicious statements by Derek Chauvin. The agency launched a quick internal 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 income for 2014 and 2015. When tax returns for 2016 to 2019 are Filed in June 2020, the Chauvins also did not report all of their income during those years, the complaints said.
The complaints alleged that Chauvin was required to pay taxes on income from off-duty security work done at several jobs between 2014 and 2020. Investigators believe that at one job he earned about $95,920 in those six years which is not been reported.
His ex-wife, Kellie May Chauvin, pleaded guilty Feb. 24 to two counts of aiding and abetting the failure to file tax returns for 2016 and 2017. Her plea deal called for three years’ probation and restitution with no more than 45 days of community service. The other charges were dropped. Hawley said she will be sentenced on May 12.
Chauvin was convicted of state homicide and manslaughter charges in 2021 and is serving 22-and-a-half years in that case. He also pleaded guilty to a federal charge of violating Floyd’s civil rights and was sentenced to 21 years. He is serving sentences concurrently.
Three other officers were convicted on federal charges of violating Floyd’s rights. Two of them were also convicted of a state charge of aiding and abetting manslaughter, while the third is awaiting a judge to decide his fate on the state charges.
Trisha Ahmed is a corps member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places reporters on local newsrooms to report on hidden issues. Follow her on Twitter: @TrishaAhmed15