SPRINGFIELD, MO (STL.News) – A Rogersville, Missouri business owner has been indicted by a federal grand jury for a $4 million scheme to defraud his customers and his failure to pay federal income and employment taxes.
Michael David Dismer, 51, was charged in a 28-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Missouri, on Thursday, Aug. 22. That indictment was unsealed and made public today upon Dismer’s arrest and initial court appearance.
Dismer has operated at least eight different businesses (most recently, Worldwide Construction, Inc., and Lakeland Marine Builders, LLC, at Stockton, Missouri) that built large boats, barges, and tugboats for customers around the world since 1993. The federal indictment alleges that Dismer engaged in a $4 million scheme to defraud 22 customers of his boat-building businesses from 2013 to 2018.
According to the indictment, Dismer signed contracts with customers and solicited deposits from them. Although Dismer told customers he would use their deposits and payments to build the boats for which they contracted, the indictment says, Dismer instead used a substantial portion of the funds for purposes unrelated to the construction of the customers’ boats. Dismer allegedly spent those funds to purchase of jewelry, lingerie and other clothing, salon services, flowers, firearms, airline and event tickets, a Hawaiian vacation for himself and six young women, private school and university tuition, furniture, improvements to his personal residence, and the purchase of real property.
Dismer also falsely represented the construction status of their projects to customers, the indictment says, in order to receive additional milestone payments and to lull customers into not attempting to obtain the return of their funds.
Dismer allegedly induced 22 customers to pay him more than $4 million for the construction of specific vessels. Among those customers, the indictment says, 14 customers paid Dismer more than $2.5 million and he provided them with inoperable and unseaworthy vessels. Seven of those customers paid Dismer more than $1 million and received nothing in return.
The indictments cite six companies that were allegedly defrauded by Dismer. Among the victims of Dismer’s alleged fraud scheme is Igiugig Village (an unincorporated Native American village in Alaska), which received a $200,000 federal grant to purchase a boat for the economic benefit of its community. On Dec. 22, 2015, the Igiugig Tribal Council contracted with Dismer (doing business as Lakeland Marine Builders) to build a push-style truckable tugboat for $275,000. The council paid Dismer an initial deposit of $96,250. On the same day, Dismer withdrew $70,000 of those funds and used the money to purchase a Stockton boat construction facility, which he had previously lost in foreclosure proceedings. The council paid Dismer an additional $77,375 in April 2016, most of which Dismer allegedly used to pay the outstanding real estate taxes on the Stockton property. The council made two additional payments to Dismer in May 2016. According to the indictment, the council has received nothing in return for the total $242,375 it paid to Dismer.
From 2013 to 2016, the indictment alleges, Dismer filed no federal income tax returns. According to the indictment, Dismer’s gross income exceeded $1 million in 2013 and 2016. Dismer’s gross income was $865,910 in 2014 and $688,770 in 2015.
Dismer also allegedly attempted to evade paying employment taxes for his companies’ employees from 1993 through 2002, and from 2004 through 2007. The indictment alleges that Dismer engaged in a practice known as “pyramiding” – he ceased operating under business names that accumulated unpaid tax assessment, and continued to earn income through new business entities.
According to the indictment, Dismer established at least 32 different accounts at seven different banks; he routinely intermingled business and personal withdrawals and made frequent inter-account transfers.
The federal indictment charges Dismer with 18 counts of wire fraud, five counts of tax evasion, four counts of failure to file a tax return, and one count of making false statements to federal law enforcement agents.
The charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.