State Court Rejects Chauvin Divorce Settlement

As previously reported, only days after the May 25th killing of George Floyd, Kellie Chauvin filed an action for divorce from her husband, Derek Chauvin, who was a Minneapolis police officer and principal actor involved in that killing. This divorce case was filed in the Minnesota state court in Washington County, where they lived. [1]

In that divorce case it was revealed that the two Chauvins had an agreement whereby Kellie would receive all the equity in their homes in Minnesota and Florida, all of their funds in their bank and investment accounts, and all of Derek’s pension and retirememt accounts except for the non-marital portion of two accounts.[2]

On October 26, the Minnesota state court judge in that divorce case, District Court Judge Juanita Freeman, issued an order stating that the “court has a duty to ensure that marriage dissolution agreements are fair and equitable” and that “one badge of fraud is a party’s transfer of substantially all of his or her assets.” The court, therefore, ruled that their divorce settlement agreement was unenforceable and directed them to submit for the court’s consideration a revised agreement with a balance sheet showing all their assets and liabilities. If there is no revised agreement or if such a revision is not approved by the court, then Judge  Freeman would try and decide the case.

A Minnesota divorce attorney who is not involved in this case said, “This is just speculation, but it’s possible that the [agreement] was intentionally drafted to get assets out of Chauvin’s name in anticipation of a civil judgment against him from the estate of George Floyd.”

Indeed, in July, the attorneys  for the Floyd family filed a civil wrongful death action against Derek Chauvin and the other three police officers involved in the killing, and the lead attorney for the family, Benjamin Crump, said they they would seek “a precedent that makes it financially prohibitive for police to wrongfully kill marginalized people.”[3]

Also before the same state court are charges that the Chauvin couple engaged in tax fraud by failing to submit Minnesota income tax returns for several years and under reported their income.[4]

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[1] Developments in Criminal Cases Over Death of George Floyd, dwkcommentaries.com (June 28, 2020); Derek Chauvin’s Wife’s Divorce Petition Raises Questions, dwkcommentaries.com (July 8, 2020

[2] Xiong, Judge rejects proposed Derek Chauvin divorce agreement, citing possible fraud, StarTribune (Nov. 20, 2020); Semenov, Proposed divorce agreement between Chauvin and wife rejected for possible fraud, FOX9 News (Nov. 20, 2020).

[3] Floyd’s Family Sues City of Minneapolis and Four Ex-Officers Involved in George Floyd’s Death, dwkcommentaries.com (July 16, 2020); George Floyd Family’s Complaint Against Four Ex-Police Officers Involved in George Floyd’s Death, dwkcommentaries.com (July 17, 2020).

[4] Chauvin and Wife Now Charged with Minnesota Tax Crimes, dwkcommentaries.com (July 22, 2020); Derek Chauvin makes first court appearance on tax fraud charges, Fox9 News (Sept. 8, 2020).

Chauvin and Wife Now Charged with Minnesota Tax Crimes  

On July 22, Derek Chauvin and his wife, Kellie Chauvin, were charged with Minnesota felony tax crimes dating back to 2014 that allege failure to report more than $460,000 in income — at least $96,000 of that in his off-duty security work. This resulted in their illegal failure to pay $21,853 in Minnesota taxes, which with interest and late filing and fraud penalties, amounts to $37,868.[1]

These charges were filed in Washington County District Court in Stillwater, Minnesota. County Attorney Pete Orput said the investigation of the two “was in the works well before” Derek Chauvin was charged with Floyd’s death. Orput added that his office was contacted in June by the state Department of Revenue officials with what they found, including getting no responses from the Chauvins to letters about no returns having been filed for certain years.

Could these charges also signal possible charges for failure to pay federal income taxes?

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[1] Walsh, Fired Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, wife charged with tax crimes, StarTribune (July 22, 2020);  Horner, Derek Chauvin, officer in George Floyd death, charged with felony tax fraud in Washington County, Twin Cities Pioneer Press (July 22, 2020); Ex-officer accused in killing of George Floyd also charged with tax crimes, Wash. Post (July 22, 2020); Read the tax charges against fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, StarTribune (July 22, 2020).