Millionaire tax cheat’s bid to reconsider restitution rejected

A former accountant and entrepreneur who failed to claim millions of dollars in income on his tax returns and falsely claimed poverty to get his children scholarships from prestigious schools got no relief on required restitution in a federal appeal, even though some of the parties to whom restitution was ordered have said they don’t want the man’s money.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday affirmed James A. Simon’s motions to reconsider the restitution he is required to pay, largely to the Internal Revenue Service. The $1.053 million in restitution originally ordered was part of Simon’s sentence after a jury in the Northern District of Indiana convicted him in 2010 of filing false tax returns, failing to file reports related to foreign bank accounts, mail fraud related to financial aid and federal financial aid fraud.

Simon was released from prison in 2016 and completed terms of supervised release in 2019. However, he had not fully made restitution as originally ordered — $886,901.69 to the IRS, $48,070.35 to the Department of Education, $17,000 to Canterbury School, and $101,600 to Culver Academies.

In upholding the restitution orders as subsequently amended by the district court, the 7th Circuit found in United States of America v. James A. Simon, 19-1317, “the majority of the challenges Simon is making could and should have been raised at sentencing and on direct appeal from his conviction and were therefore waived; as to the remainder, his appeal is untimely.”

The district court rejected Simon’s petitions to be heard on his motion to reconsider restitution in which he sought to reduce or eliminate amounts due to the Department of Education and Culver. The 7th Circuit affirmed yet raised questions about whether the district court had the authority to even consider the government’s amended restitution order that previously reduced the amount Simon owed to Culver and eliminated restitution due to Canterbury.

In a footnote, the court observed that at sentencing, “Both Culver and Canterbury had indicated prior to sentencing that they did not want restitution. Nonetheless, the court ordered Simon to make restitution to both schools, explaining that ‘[o]ddly, it’s mandatory even though Canterbury and Culver say they don’t want the money back.’”

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