WASHINGTON — Donald Trump pardoned his longtime ally Roger Stone in the final weeks of his presidency, wiping away the Republican political operative's convictions for lying to Congress, obstructing investigators, and tampering with witnesses during the Russia investigation.
But that wasn’t the end of Stone’s legal troubles. On Friday, federal tax prosecutors filed a civil lawsuit against him in Florida claiming nearly $2 million in unpaid taxes. The government is alleging that Stone and his wife, Nydia Stone, owe more than $1.5 million in federal income taxes from 2007 to 2011 — an amount that includes hundreds of thousands of dollars in late penalties and interest — plus an additional $400,000 in unpaid income taxes and penalties from 2018 alone.
Prosecutors are also accusing the Stones of placing more than $1 million into a corporate entity that their family controlled, Drake Ventures LLC, in 2018 and 2019 in order to keep it out of the hands of the IRS. The complaint alleges that the Stones used money from Drake Ventures to pay for personal expenses — “groceries, dentist bills, spas, salons, clothing and restaurant expenses,” according to the government — as well as make a down payment on a home, resolve some of their tax debt, and pay wages to relatives and other individuals without filing the required paperwork.
“Although they used funds held in Drake Ventures accounts to pay some of their taxes, the Stones’ use of Drake Ventures to hold their funds allowed them to shield their personal income from enforced collection and fund a lavish lifestyle despite owing nearly $2 million in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties,” prosecutors wrote.
If the phrase “lavish lifestyle” sounds familiar, it’s because prosecutors from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team used the same language when they charged former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort with hiding millions of dollars in income in overseas bank accounts to avoid paying taxes and to finance an array of luxury purchases. Manafort was found guilty of tax and bank fraud but, like Stone, received a pardon from Trump in December 2020.
The Stones made some efforts at resolving their tax debts, the government said. According to the latest complaint, they entered into an agreement with the IRS in May 2017 and began paying monthly installments of $19,485. But after Stone was charged by Mueller’s team in January 2019, the government said he and his wife arranged to purchase a condominium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the name of a new trust they’d set up, the Bertran Family Revocable Trust, and used money from Drake Ventures.
Prosecutors alleged the condo purchase was “marked by numerous badges of fraud,” noting that the Stones owed so much money to the US government at that point that they were “insolvent.”
In March 2019, the Stones failed to make their monthly $19,485 payment to the IRS. That dissolved the installment agreement and opened them up to potential legal action.
As his criminal case was pending and he was facing several private civil lawsuits, Stone publicly fundraised to support his legal defense, including taking paid speaking engagements at strip clubs. He also launched a “Stone Family Support Fund” in mid-2019 to, as the Daily Beast reported at the time, cover “rent, food, medical expenses, insurance, gasoline, and the most basic of living expenses.” His legal defense fund website currently includes a message asking for money in anticipation of being charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol; he has not been criminally charged to date. The site doesn’t mention the tax liability.
“We lost our home, our savings, my car and most of our insurance in my epic fight for freedom list year. Being banned for life on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram has made it virtually impossible to sell my books online- my main source of income in the two years in which I awaited trial. I simply do not have the personal resources to fight yet another legal battle where I have done nothing whatsoever wrong,” Stone’s website reads.
In response to the latest lawsuit, Stone provided a statement saying the claims were part of a "smear campaign" to tie him to the Jan. 6 riots (the lawsuit does not reference the events that day) and that it was "laughable" to say he was living a "lavish lifestyle" since he and his wife are "virtually bankrupt."
"This case against me is motivated by blood lust and liberal hysteria over the fact that President Trump saw the clear corruption of my trial and had the strength and the courage to correct this injustice by issuing me a grant of clemency," Stone wrote.