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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor
NEWS ADVISORY

SUBJECT: Aurora Motels Plead Guilty to Criminal Tax Evasion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
4/28/2010  12:30:00 PM
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Kimberly Mills  (206) 684-8602


Four Aurora Avenue motel corporations entered guilty pleas on Tuesday to criminal tax violations in Seattle Municipal Court. Under terms of the plea agreements, two of the troublesome motels, the Isabella and Italia, will be sold within four months or leased to non-profit groups for use as low-income housing or emergency shelter.

The unusual and creative disposition of the original 180 criminal counts of failure to file tax returns and failure to pay city-owed business tax was the result of a negotiated settlement between the City Attorney’s Office and the defendants, Dean and Jill Inman, and the four motel corporations that the Inmans control as corporate officers. Their motel properties -- the Seattle Motor Inn, Fremont Inn, Wallingford Inn, Italia and Isabella motels -- consistently account for a majority of calls for police service to the roughly 26 low-cost motels along Aurora Avenue North.

“This result is a win for residents along the Aurora Avenue corridor, demonstrating what’s possible when neighbors collaborate with SPD and this office to take back the streets,” City Attorney Peter S. Holmes said.

According to the agreement that Municipal Court Judge George W. Holifield approved, each of the four motel corporations pleaded guilty to five counts of failure to file tax returns (for 20 counts total). Although the prosecution requested suspended sentences with financial penalties, the Court imposed two-year deferred sentences instead, including $1,000 in court costs. The court deferred imposition of the maximum penalty of $25,000 for each case on condition the corporations not commit future criminal violations and pay court costs. In addition, the Italia & Isabella Corporation agreed to sell or close these two motels within 120 days. If not sold, all residential use must cease unless the motels are leased to a non-profit organization and used for low-income housing or emergency shelter. The Inmans agreed with the court’s authority to impose the sale or closure condition.

Dean Inman pleaded guilty to one count of failure to file tax returns. He received a two-year deferred sentence on condition that he commit no criminal law violations and he agreed to the sale or closure of the two motels. Prosecutors agreed to continue the case against Jill Inman as long as she commits no criminal law violations. She also agreed to the sale or closure of the two motels. If she complies with the agreement, charges against her will be dismissed.

Since the charges were filed last year, all of the defendants have complied with the law by filing and paying their taxes to the city (more than $4,000) and have otherwise complied with city license requirements. A fifth Aurora motel controlled by the Inmans, the Seattle Motor Inn, has since been closed.

“Dismissing criminal charges against the Inmans and their corporations wasn’t going to happen,” said Edward McKenna, the assistant city attorney who handled the case. “We were fully prepared to litigate all 180 counts until the Inmans closed the Seattle Motor Inn and then agreed to close the Italia and Isabella motels.”

The Inman motels have drawn many complaints from both police and the community because of criminal activity occurring or emanating from them.

Holmes warned that the more than $100,000 in fines that the court deferred could be revoked and jail imposed on the motels’ owners if they violate conditions of their sentences. “We’re hopeful these cases have a lasting impact and won’t result in further legal action,” he said.

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City Attorney’s Office

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