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Former Las Vegas man pleads guilty in IRS scheme

A former Las Vegas man pleaded guilty Thursday in a multimillion-dollar scheme to help people hide assets from the Internal Revenue Service and other creditors.

Richard Neiswonger, 60, entered guilty pleas to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of mail fraud.

He also agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors and pay the IRS $3.2 million in restitution.

Senior U.S. District Judge Philip Pro set a Nov. 5 sentencing.

Neiswonger, who now lives in Florida, admitted in court that he was responsible for marketing the scheme in advertisements around the country that used actor Robert Wagner as a spokesman.

The advice handed out to people was "shaky at best," Neiswonger told Pro.

Neiswonger, who is free on his own recognizance, admitted in his plea agreement that he earned $5.7 million in the scheme.

Neiswonger and two other men, former Colorado lawyer William S. Reed and Las Vegas accountant Wendell Waite, were indicted last July in the massive conspiracy, which prosecutors alleged took in more than $63 million between 2003 and 2006.

Reed, 61, the mastermind of the scheme, pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to defraud the United States, aggravated identity theft and attempted tax evasion. He agreed to pay $40 million in restitution and is to be sentenced by Pro on Aug. 6. Waite is awaiting trial.

Reed, whose license to practice in Colorado was suspended in 1997 for engaging in misrepresentations and dishonesty, authored the book "Bulletproof Asset Protection."

Prosecutors alleged the defendants enriched themselves as far back as 1998 through the sale of services and products that would help people hide their assets.

Reed and Neiswonger formed the Nevada company, Asset Protection Group, which operated in Las Vegas between 1999 and 2006.

Asset Protection Group sold a business opportunity training program to at least 1,000 people for about $10,000 each, prosecutors alleged.

Those who bought the program became consultants and sold the service to clients who wanted to conceal assets. In turn, the consultants received a portion of the fees paid by the clients.

In court Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Damm told Pro that Neiswonger and his wife, Shannon, face other criminal charges in Colorado stemming from a $1 million fraud scheme.

That case will be transferred to Las Vegas, Damm said.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135.

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