Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis Police officer charged with second degree murder in the killing of George Floyd, has been charged with nine felony counts of aiding and abetting tax fraud in Washington County, Minn.
The charges accuse Chauvin and his wife of claiming Florida residency to avoid paying Minnesota taxes, resulting in six charges for filing false or fraudulent returns and three counts for failing to file tax returns. Each charges carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Derek Chauvin, who is currently being jailed in lieu of bail at the maximum security facility Oak Park Heights, has become a symbol of police brutality after he was captured on video kneeling on the neck of Floyd, an unarmed Black man, for more than nine minutes according to body camera footage, killing him. He has pleaded not guilty in that case.
The killing set off unrest first in Minneapolis and then around the country and across the world, galvanizing both Black and white Americans to seek racial justice. In the days following the killing, internet sleuths uncovered that the Minneapolis officer and his wife owned property both in Oakdale, Minn., and in Windermere, Fla., prompting protests outside both properties.
A criminal complaint filed Wednesday says investigators used bank card transactions and Minneapolis Police payroll data to establish the couple were Minnesota residents while claiming to live in Florida — but that they did not file Minnesota income tax returns for the years 2016, 2017 or 2018.
The Chauvins underreported more than $464,000 and owe nearly $38,000 in taxes, interest and penalties, including a fraud penalty, according to the charges.
The charges cite Derek Chauvin’s time cards; interviews with witnesses where he earned money doing off-duty security at El Nuevo Rodeo, Cub Foods, Midtown Global Market and EME Antro Bar; and interviews with Kellie Chauvin, who allegedly acknowledged to officers they did not file returns.
“Yeah well we don’t want to get your dad involved because he will just be mad at me I mean us for not doing them for years,” the criminal complaint alleges Kellie Chauvin said to her husband on a recorded jailhouse telephone call.
Even when the Chauvins filed Minnesota returns, they underreported income, according to the charges. The filed tax returns for years 2014 and 2015 did not report income received from Chauvin’s off-duty security work and Kellie Chauvin’s photography income.
The Chauvins purchased a $100,000 BMW X5 from a dealership in Minnetonka in 2018, the charges say. But they presented Florida driver’s licenses, registered the vehicle in Florida, and paid Florida sales taxes, according to prosecutors. The couple had the BMW serviced 11 times since purchase — all in Minnesota — and investigators say they could not find any service records in Florida.
Court documents allege Kellie Chauvin told investigators they changed their residency to Florida because it was cheaper to register a car.
Law enforcement executed a search warrant at the couple’s home and allegedly found documents showing income from former officer Chauvin’s off-duty security work, which was never reported as income.
Derek Chauvin was listed as a Florida resident on his real estate license on file with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which had a Florida mailing address. Public records show Chauvin’s Minnesota real estate license was categorized as being a “non-resident.”
According to an archived Facebook post from Kellie Chauvin, she identified herself as “a VRBO/Airbnb owner,” posting a photograph of a home with an outdoor pool and palm trees, tagged as being in the Orlando area.
Kellie Chauvin told investigators that she only spends December and January in Florida, court documents say, but the day of George Floyd’s killing, Kellie Chauvin posted a video on Instagram which appeared to show an alligator in a pond. She filed for divorce from the former officer on May 31, which is pending.
Derek Chauvin was registered to vote in Florida as of June, and had voted there in the 2016 and 2018 general elections, according to a statement from Bill Cowles, supervisor of elections for Orange County, Fla. Prosecutors there said they would “proceed accordingly” with an investigation if Minnesota authorities provided them information to support a violation of Florida law.
Fewer than 10% of Minneapolis Police officers live in the city they serve, which reformers have long cited as damaging police-community relations. The Legislature passed a bill early Tuesday — which Gov. Tim Walz is expected to sign Thursday — that would provide new incentives for officers to live in the cities they patrol.
Reformer reporter Max Nesterak contributed reporting.