Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Financial planner guilty in tax case

By James McNair
The Cincinnati Enquirer

One of two disbarred stockbrokers now running an estate-planning firm in Blue Ash was convicted in Dayton on seven counts of failing to pay federal taxes.

The jury verdict Friday night in U.S. District Court ended the six-week trial of Mark May, 43, of Xenia. Afterward, Judge Walter Rice ordered May held without bond, calling the one-time Republican Party fund-raising chairman in Greene County a flight risk and a danger to the community.

May was the founder, president and owner of Maranatha Financial Group, a financial planning firm, from 1990 to 1996, the government said. He and Craig Herl, of West Milton, were later accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of defrauding investors of $3.6 million. The two men were barred from the securities industry last December.

As the SEC pushed the fraud case, the Internal Revenue Service accused May of cheating on Maranatha's taxes. The jury convicted May of failing to file payroll tax returns during the life of the company. The government said he falsified returns for 1995 and 1996, failing to pay more than $500,000 in payroll taxes for 1996 alone.

"May also falsely deducted state and local taxes he knew had not been paid, fraudulently claimed and received refunds, and used a nominee trust, putting his house in his wife's name, to impede the collection efforts of the IRS," said Gregory Lockhart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

May and Herl are facing a separate criminal trial for obstruction of justice and perjury allegations stemming from the SEC investigation.

In spite of their securities industry troubles, May and Herl set up a company in Blue Ash called Premier Services Network. The company offers estate planning and annuities.


E-mail jmcnair@enquirer.com

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