CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA James Thomas Bramlette, 42, of Salt Lake City, Utah, was sentenced to more than five years in federal prisons after pleading guilty to wire and tax fraud.
Evidence presented to the court showed that Bramlette and his co-conspirators raised more than $10 million from investors to develop Melrose Resort on Daufuskie Island, knowing the resort was in dire financial straits and prone. to foreclosure by the original lender. Bramlette and his co-conspirators repeatedly told investors that their funds were being used to develop the station when in reality the funds were being used to pay the original lender not to foreclose, pay previous investors, and pay employees. , utilities and taxes at the station. Bramlette also used at least $1.8 million from investors for personal use and to live a lavish life.
“Mr. Bramlette’s prison sentence reflects the seriousness of his offense and the United States Attorney’s Office’s commitment to deterring fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs. “This office will continue to prosecute those who deceive their fellow citizens and steal federal taxpayers’ money.”
Regarding the wire fraud charge, as of September 2016, Melrose Resort owed over $500,000 in overdue property taxes. The Beaufort County Treasurer’s Office informed Bramlette that the station would be auctioned off in a tax sale if property taxes were not paid. In order to prevent the resort from being sold during the tax sale, Bramlette created a fake electronic receipt which incorrectly depicted that Melrose Resort wired money to the Beaufort County Treasurer’s office to pay property taxes.
“Instead of telling the truth about Melrose Resort’s ongoing financial problems, Bramlette defrauded investors and deceived others who had interests in the property,” said Susan Ferensic, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Field Office. at Columbia. “With this sentence, he will pay the consequences in prison and will no longer be able to continue his lavish lifestyle at the expense of those who trusted him.”
With respect to the tax evasion charge, Bramlette was required to collect and pay federal payroll taxes on the salaries of all Melrose Resort employees. Bramlette collected employee payroll taxes, but he did not remit those taxes to the IRS. In total, Bramlette failed to remit the IRS about $1 million in payroll taxes.
“Employment-related tax evasion results in lost tax revenue for the United States government.” said Donald “Trey” Eakins, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Charlotte Field Office. “Failure to pay withholding taxes is a serious offense. Corporate executives have a responsibility to withhold income taxes from their employees and then remit them to the IRS. The criminal investigation of the IRS will vigorously pursue anyone who collects these taxes and uses the funds for their own personal gain.”
United States District Judge Richard M. Gergel sentenced Bramlette to 63 months in federal prison, followed by three years of court-ordered supervision. There is no parole in the federal system.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the IRS. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Bower prosecuted the case.