PHOENIX, AZ (December 6, 2013) – A former Certified Public Accountant in Scottsdale who bilked six of his clients out of nearly $1 million will spend 35 years in prison, according to a sentence handed down today by the Honorable David B. Gass. Danny Wise (D.O.B. 8/5/1956) was found guilty in October, 2013 of multiple counts of fraud and theft for keeping federal tax payments of his clients for himself instead of providing the funds to the Internal Revenue Service.
“A long prison sentence is an appropriate consequence for this defendant, given the substantial and lasting harm he has caused the many people who trusted him with their hard-earned money,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Today’s outcome also ensures that he will never again have an opportunity to victimize members of our community,” he added.
The first victim in the case against Wise was Dr. Arthur Kreitenberg, a childhood friend and client for 25 years, who retained Wise to prepare his 2006 and 2007 tax returns. Wise subsequently told Kreitenberg that he had filed the taxes along with payments due totaling approximately $270,000 and requested that Kreitenberg reimburse him. After doing so, Kreitenberg heard from friends that Wise may have previously misused clients IRS payments. Kreitenberg subsequently contacted the IRS and learned that although his taxes had been filed, the payment had not been received and that he consequently owed more than $400,000 in taxes, penalties and interest. When Kreitenberg contacted Wise about the matter, Wise told him that some sort of embezzlement had occurred within his office, but did not admit his involvement.
Using the same ruse, Wise stole $480,000 from Sean and Elissa Gillespie. It took more than two years and involved significant hardship for them to resolve the resulting penalties with the IRS. Wise also victimized Francesco and Hillary Chierici, who lost more than $53,000, and Carl and Laurie Farless, who lost $110,000. Both couples were related to Wise and trusted him implicitly to handle their taxes. In many instances, Wise continued to bill his victims even as he stole their money.
Wise was arrested on May 22, 2009. Two days earlier, the Arizona Corporation Commission found him responsible for a separate Ponzi-style investment fraud scheme and fined him $5.7 million. He was ordered to pay more than $67 million in restitution to his victims. Investigators also learned that the Arizona Accountancy Board had revoked his CPA license in December, 2008. At the time of his arrest, Wise had been forced into an involuntary bankruptcy by a Federal Bankruptcy Court, which ordered all of his property and assets seized and placed in receivership for liquidation.
On December 2, 2009, a Maricopa County Grand Jury issued an indictment charging Wise with multiple counts of fraud and theft. At his trial, Wise presented false testimony about his actions and attempted to deflect guilt for his crimes onto one of his employees and a business associate. After a 19-day trial, the jury deliberated for two hours before finding him guilty of eight counts of Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices and 22 counts of Theft. The jury also found aggravating factors were proven in all 30 counts.