- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal prosecutors say a North Carolina man has pleaded guilty to tax evasion and operating as a pilot without proper certification.

The Department of Justice said 53-year-old Paul Douglas Tharp of Greensboro entered his plea on Tuesday.

Court documents say Tharp attempted to evade payment of an outstanding federal income tax debt by filing false documents, including false federal tax returns from 2011 through 2014. After Tharp failed to file tax returns for the years 2003 through 2006, the Internal Revenue Service assessed income taxes for those years.

The court documents said Tharp owed more than $300,000 in taxes for the years 2003 through 2007. In 2011, Tharp provided a false statement to an IRS revenue officer assigned to collect his unpaid taxes, on which he failed to report that he owned an airport and an investment firm, and concealed his business bank accounts and rental income he had received under penalty of perjury.

In 2012 and 2014, Tharp also filed tax returns for the 2011 through 2013 tax years on which he omitted significant income that he received from his airport and rental properties.

As part of his plea, Tharp - who surrendered his pilot license in 2012 - also admitted he served as a pilot without the required certification at least four times that year.

In May 2014, Tharp pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Charlotte, North Carolina, to serving as an airman without an airman’s certificate and providing false statements to a Federal Aviation Administration investigator. The following March, he was sentenced to 60 days incarceration, three years of probation, and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

In his current case, Tharp is scheduled for sentencing on April 22. He faces up to five years in prison for the tax evasion charge and three years in prison for each count of serving as a pilot without an airman’s certificate, as well as a maximum fine of $250,000 for each count of conviction. He must also pay $281,366.62 in restitution to the IRS.

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