A 64-year-old Anchorage plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Brandner, was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury on Friday on wire fraud charges in connection with a scheme to defraud his wife and the Alaska State Courts in divorce proceedings.
It is alleged in the Grand Jury indictment that Brandner drove more than 6,000 miles from Alaska to Panama and transferred over $4,000,000 out of the United States in 2007 and 2008 in a scheme to defraud his wife during their divorce. After transferring the funds, Brandner submitted false documents to the court claiming that he had loaned the funds to a foreign entity and so the money was unavailable to be dispursed in the divorce proceedings.
He well may have gotten away with his scheme, but in November of 2010, Panama signed a Tax Cooperation and Information Exchange Agreement with the United States.
In 2011, on the advise of his Panamanian advisor, Brandner secretly returned the money to the United States and deposited the funds in a Bank of America account using the name of a shell corporation.
The conversation between his advisor and Brandner was secretly taped as the advisor was working with the U.S. government on another case. During that conversation, Brandner admitted that he had not filed a FBAR form reporting the foreign account to the Department of Treasury. Failing to do so, subjects the funds to seizure.
The money, totaling $4,656,061.85, was seized in Irvine, California. That money is now subject to forfeiture proceedings in a Los Angeles Federal Court.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder, who presented the case to the Grand Jury, Brandner faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 if convicted of the charges.
The investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service and ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations.