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Polaris Bar Owner Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion Charges

What remains of the Polaris is being demolished and removed by Q Trucking. Photo Credit: Davis Hovey, KNOM (2017)
What remains of the Polaris is being demolished and removed by Q Trucking. Photo Credit: Davis Hovey, KNOM (2017)

Tina H. Yi of Anchorage pleaded guilty on July 3 to evading taxes on income earned from her Nome-based business, SJ Investment LLC. Yi was the sole owner and operator of SJ Investment LLC, which did business as Polaris HBL, a hotel, bar, and liquor store in Nome. 

Yi established the business in April 2007 and managed it until October 2017 when a fire destroyed the property. The exact cause of the fire was never released to the public, despite an investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s office and public records requests submitted by KNOM. The fire resulted in the death of Nome resident Bette Ann Haugen.

Court documents and statements reveal that from 2014 to 2018 Yi maintained two sets of financial records for Polaris HBL. One set accurately recorded the business’s income and expenses, while the other understated the income. Yi used the inaccurate records to prepare her tax returns, resulting in false filings for each of those years.

According to a press release issued by the Justice Department’s Tax Division, Yi’s actions caused a total tax loss of over $550,000 to the IRS. 

Yi is scheduled for sentencing on October 11, where she faces up to five years in prison along with a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties. The final sentence will be determined by a federal district court judge, considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The investigation was conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation with prosecution led by Trial Attorney John C. Gerardi of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Bradley for the District of Alaska.

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