Former Charlotte-area minister convicted of tax crimes

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A former Charlotte-area minister was convicted of failing to pay taxes and aiding in filing false tax returns Thursday.

According to court documents, 51-year-old William Coontz filed delinquent U.S. federal income tax returns and consistently failed to make timely payments on taxes he owed.

Coontz was the minister of Rock Wealth International Ministries. He also operated two for-profit companies, Legacy Media and Coontz Investments and Insurance.

Coontz filed late tax returns and did not pay the total assessed taxes, resulting in liabilities of more than $326,394 from 2011 through 2013, according to court documents.

He is also accused of filing false tax returns from 2010 through 2013, which underreported his income. "Coontz engaged in a check-cashing scheme, involving payments for travel reimbursements for speaking engagements and the sale of books and other products," court documents state.

Coontz would also tell his travel assistant to bill the churches for the cost of a full-fare first-class ticket, although the tickets used were "substantially less than the amount billed," court documents allege.

Coontz directed that checks, such as payments for speeches and for the purchase of books, be made payable to "Todd Coontz," and sent to his personal address.

"In total, Coontz concealed and cashed at least 102 checks for travel reimbursements, speeches and books and other products, totaling at least $252,037.99 for the relevant time period, causing his total income for the relevant tax years to be underreported in his federal income tax returns."

He reportedly continued to conceal and cash checks received as payments during 2014.

The former Charlotte minister spent "substantial amounts" of business funds to pay for personal expenditures, which were falsely classified as business expenditures, documents allege, including payments totaling to more than $227,700 for clothing and over $140,000 for meals and entertainment.

The failure to pay tax charge carries a maximum prison term of one year and a $100,000 fine per count. Coontz' businesses purchased a condominium and luxury vehicles, including three BMWs, two Ferraris, a Land Rover, and a Maserati, court documents state.

Coontz, of Fort Lauderdale, FL, has since been released on bond.

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