The former Minneapolis police officer imprisoned for the murder of George Floyd pleaded guilty Friday in Washington County District Court to two counts of tax evasion.
Derek Chauvin, who appeared for the hearing via Zoom from the Arizona prison where he is serving a 22½-year sentence for killing Floyd and violating his civil rights, was first charged in 2020 along with his ex-wife with underreporting their income.
He pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of aiding and abetting, and failure to file tax returns in 2017 and 2018.
His former wife, Kellie Chauvin, pleaded guilty to two counts of tax evasion in a hearing last month. She filed for divorce two days after Floyd's death, but the charges cover a time when they were married and filing jointly.
Chauvin has been imprisoned since he was convicted on state murder charges and a federal civil rights violation for the May 2020 killing of Floyd. A video of Floyd's death shot by teenager Darnella Frazier showed Chauvin, a white officer, kneeling for more than nine minutes on the neck of Floyd, who was Black. The images helped fuel street protests around the world in a global outcry over policing and racial injustice.
A month after Floyd's death, authorities with the state Department of Revenue executed a search warrant on Chauvin's Oakdale home and took a box of financial and tax documents from the garage.
Interviews with Chauvin's father, an accountant who prepared Chauvin's 2014 and 2015 taxes, led authorities to believe Chauvin did not report income he earned in those years from sources outside of his job with the Minneapolis police. Kellie, meanwhile, ran a photography business and was paid $66,472 in 2014 and 2015 but didn't report the income, according to court documents.
The state charged them both with underreporting a total of more than $464,000 in income between 2014 and 2019. They pleaded not guilty in 2021.
The charges said that from 2014 to 2019, Chauvin worked part-time security jobs at El Nuevo Rodeo dance club, Cub Foods, Midtown Global Market and EME Antro bar on E. Lake Street, often getting paid in cash. Investigators estimated that Chauvin failed to report the income and pay taxes on nearly $96,000 he earned from El Nuevo Rodeo alone.
The day after tax documents were taken from the Chauvins' home, Kellie called Derek at the Oak Park Heights state prison where he was being held for Floyd's murder. After Kellie told Derek that someone was looking at their tax returns, Derek suggested that they turn to "who we have used to handle for many years." Kellie responded, "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 state's tax investigation found that the Chauvins failed to report all of their income for 2014 and 2015, and didn't file tax returns for 2016, 2017, or 2018. When Chauvin attempted to file returns for 2016 through 2019 in June of 2020, he didn't include all of his earned income for those years, the state said.
In all, the couple failed to pay $21,853 in taxes. Penalties and interest pushed the couple's obligation to $37,868, according to court documents.
The state agreed to drop seven of the nine charges Chauvin faced in exchange for his admission of guilt. Chauvin was handed a 13-month sentence with credit for 13 months already served. No fine was imposed, and Chauvin agreed to pay restitution in an amount to be determined later.
Kellie Chauvin's plea deal requested three years' probation. She will be sentenced May 12.