Convicted bank swindler tops list of delinquent taxpayers

Monday, December 27th 2004, 6:03 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A convicted bank swindler who owed more the $40 million in back state taxes in 1995 tops the list of Oklahoma's tax warrants.

It's unknown how much still is owed by Bruce Bonnett, who was released from federal prison in 2000, because payment plans and current balances aren't public record, said Paula Ross, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

Tax warrants stay active until the debt is paid.

The list of top warrants, requested by The Oklahoman, shows 12 tax warrants worth more than $1 million. In addition, nearly 40 people owe more than $500,000.

The list includes everything from failed businesses to people whose business dealings landed them in prison.

Ross said it's likely some of the debts will never be paid.

"The key thing behind these is a way for the states to protect their rights," she said. "That way they can't sell property. It impacts their credit. It kind of holds them to that until they can work the situation out."

Bonnett, whose $40 million warrant dwarfs others on the list, went to federal prison in connection with the defrauding of a Sapulpa bank. He tops the list with two income tax warrants, one for $35.3 million and another for $8.5 million.

Bonnett did not return calls from The Oklahoman.

Described as an Enid businessman, prosecutors said the fraud led to the failure in 1987 of First National Bank of Sapulpa. He was convicted by a federal jury of 58 counts of bank fraud, sentenced to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $800,000 in restitution to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Bonnett and others were involved in an 11-month, $3.3 million scheme. It included insider loans, check kiting, overdrafts and overextended lines of credit and record juggling, prosecutors argued.

Bonnett also was sentenced to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine after pleading guilty in 1988 to a federal drug conspiracy charge.

He was released from prison in 2000 after serving 10 years, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Tulsa oilman Robert Sutton also is connected to several warrants.

An income tax warrant filed in 1981 against Sutton Investments Inc. shows the company, once owned by Sutton, owed $1.9 million in back income taxes.

Sutton was imprisoned for obstruction of justice and was ordered by a federal judge in 1984 to pay $210 million to all 50 states on charges he illegally profited from miscertified crude oil.

The ruling was part of a $1.1 billion U.S. Department of Energy lawsuit against Sutton.

State officials also filed income tax warrants against a company connected to Sutton and against him personally in 1982.

He was released from prison in 1987, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Jay Jones, the former executive vice president of the failed Tulsa-based Commercial Financial Services, owed $1.4 million in income taxes in 2001.

Jones is serving a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge in a plea deal. He now is being held at the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Center and is scheduled for release in 2007.

Federal prosecutors argued that Jones and other CFS top executives conspired in the late 1990s to inflate the company's bottom line by selling $63 million in assets to a shell company.

Also on the list is City Vending of Muskogee, which had its license revoked by the Oklahoma Tax Commission. The commission in 1985 fined the company for selling tax-free cigarettes to American Indian tribes and eventually revoked its license.

The company owed $1.5 million.

Former Oklahoma City heavy equipment dealer Boecking Machinery Inc. is also listed as owing $1.7 million.