Sometimes, divorces can be mutual, easy and completed with minimal effort. When Michael Brandner, a 64-year-old plastic surgeon in Alaska decided to divorce his wife of 28 years, he took the decidedly opposite approach. He decided to get the federal government involved by hiding millions of dollars from the courts during the proceedings.
Brandner wanted to conceal money and property for his "personal control and use," according to an indictment filed by the government. He allegedly did so through two corporate entities he created—Dakota Investments and PENSCO Trust Co. They acted as shields intended to hide separate deposits totaling nearly $4.7 million into bank accounts in Panama and Costa Rica.
However, what tipped off the federal government that these funds—which he said were part of an investment not counted toward his assets during the divorce—was the way he got the money there. He decided to "surreptitiously" drive down to Central America to hide the money in banks. Allegedly, the plan was to eventually write it off as an investment loss, so his wife would not get a penny of it.
A complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office in California claims Brandner created another entity, Evergreen Capital LLC, with the help of someone who is now acting as a cooperating witness. The goal was to switch the funds from overseas into a U.S. bank account held by a foreign entity. That cooperating witness was the key to bringing Brandner in.
As we all know, it's bad to lie at all. But when the government and money are involved, they will uncover the truth. If guilty of the seven wire fraud charges he faces, Brandner could face 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The government also seized the nearly $4.7 million at question.
Let that be a lesson to all of us.
MORE: Anchorage Doctor Accused of Hiding Millions During Divorce (ktuu.com)