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Dawsonville man guilty of tax fraud
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A Dawsonville man pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of tax fraud, according to a report from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Robert Merickle, 59, of Dawsonville, was charged with filing a false tax return in 2001, which failed to report substantial amounts of income from a company he owned and operated, East Coast Marketing.

"This businessman tried to avoid following the rules that everyone must follow, and enriched himself at all other taxpayers’ expense," U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said in a statement. "No one enjoys paying taxes, but evading the obligation to honestly report and pay income taxes harms everyone. Those who choose this criminal course of action face federal prison time, which is far worse than paying the tax that was owed."

According to Nahmias, Merickle spent more than $200,000 from his company’s account for personal expenses, which included the financing of a 55-foot luxury yacht, but treated those expenses as business expenses.

Merickle also accepted tens of thousands of dollars in cash from customers, which he kept off the company’s books and therefore off its tax returns, the report stated.

The report also alleged that Merickle engaged in similar activities in 2000, 2002 and 2003, which combine for more than $500,000 in unreported income.

Merickle has agreed that the 2000, 2002 and 2003 conduct and unreported income will be used to determine his sentence, but disputes the exact amount of the unreported income in those years.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Merickle pleaded guilty to the charges before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Cole, who will issue a report and recommendation to U.S. District Court Judge William O’Kelley to consider the plea.

A sentencing date has not yet been set.

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