Derek Chauvin makes first court appearance on tax fraud charges

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin faced a judge for the first time Tuesday on tax fraud and tax evasion charges in Washington County, Minnesota. Chauvin and his wife are accused of failing to file several years of income tax returns and under-reporting income, including from his off-duty security work.

Chauvin’s wife Kellie, who is also charged in the case, has filed for divorce.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the Memorial Day death of George Floyd. Video from the scene at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue shows Chauvin pinning Floyd to the ground with a knee to the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes.

Chauvin will be in court on Sept. 11 in that case for a motions hearing. A trial is scheduled for March 2021.

Chauvin is being represented by the same defense attorney in both his tax case and his murder defense case. He told the judge Tuesday that he and his attorney, Eric Nelson, have had “minimal” time to discuss the tax case.

According to the complaint in Chauvin's tax case. Minnesota Department of Revenue investigators began working on the couple’s case on June 12. At the time, records showed they had last filed a tax return in 2015.

Upon review, investigators learned in addition to working as a Minneapolis police officer, between 2014 and 2020 Derek Chauvin also worked off-duty security for other Cub Foods, Midtown Global Market, EME Antro Bar and the restaurant El Nuevo Rodeo. From the restaurant alone, investigators believe he earned about $95,920 from 2014 to 2019 that he did not report as income. Derek also earned $9,477.50 as a realtor in 2017.

Kellie Chauvin works as a realtor for RE/MAX and runs a photography business. Bank records of checks show she earned $66,472.75 for photography that was not reported as income.

Investigators interviewed Kellie on June 26. She told them she knew she was required to file taxes every year, but didn’t file because “it got away from her.” At the meeting, she and an accountant provided tax returns for 2016 through 2019, however much of the information was incomplete or estimated. The returns did not include Derek’s income from El Nuevo Rodeo or Kellie’s income from her photography business.

According to the complaint, Derek Chauvin’s father, an accountant, prepared the couple’s tax returns for 2014 and 2015. In a jail phone call between the couple about the tax case investigation, Derek appears to suggest reaching out to his father, but Kellie responds, “Yeah well we don’t want to get your dad involved because he will just be mad at me I mean us for not doing them for years," the charges state.

In addition to underreporting income, the charges state the couple also tried to avoid paying proper sales tax on their vehicle. In January 2018, the Chauvins bought a 2018 BMW X5 from BMW of Minnetonka, but registered the vehicle with their Florida address and paid Florida sales tax. Kellie told investigators they used their Florida address because it was cheaper to register the car.

According to the complaint, the Chauvins received multiple “request for a missing return” letters, which warned they could face criminal penalties.