The first Hawker 4000 corporate jet that was delivered to a customer has been seized by federal investigators in connection with a tax-evasion scheme, according to reports this week in the Associated Press and the Wichita Eagle. Gary Hall, a Kansas businessman, took delivery of the $21-million Hawker bizjet in a ceremony at the Beechcraft company in Wichita in June. He and seven others have been charged with scheming to avoid paying $25 million in taxes on cigarettes. Hall's lawyer Dan Monnat said the federal charges involve the complex structure of cigarette taxes in the state of Oklahoma. "Gary Hall is a well-respected businessman and philanthropist," Monnat said. "He vigorously asserts his innocence of these accusations and welcomes a jury trial that will make that clear." As for the fate of the Hawker: "If he's acquitted, he'll get his plane back," Jim Cross, a spokesman for the Kansas U.S. Attorney's office, told the Eagle.
Hall owned and controlled several businesses, including some that deal with wholesale tobacco. Prosecutors allege that companies controlled by Hall and the other defendants improperly stamped some of the cigarettes for sale, avoiding taxes. They carried out the scheme through a variety of means, including communications by Internet and fax and money wire transfers, according to the prosecutors.