Long-time financial chief for Dean Kirkland pleads guilty to personal tax charges

Camas accountant Drew Q. Miller, a long-time associate of Vancouver real estate developer Dean Kirkland, has agreed to plead guilty to charges that he willfully failed to pay federal income taxes.

Federal prosecutors charged Miller with failing to pay the full income tax obligation he had accrued from 2008 to 2016. In five of those years, he failed to file a return.

Miller originally pleaded not guilty, but changed his plea last week in an agreement in which he conceded that his failure to pay taxes cost the government $147,076, according to court documents.

The change of plea agreement was filed in US District Court in Western Washington in Seattle on July 21.

Kirkland has been building shopping centers and hotels around Clark County for years. Outside investors in a number of those projects have sued Kirkland and, in some of the cases Miller as well, claiming they weren’t treated fairly.

Miller has worked with Kirkland since 2006. He is listed as the managing member of several limited liability corporations overseeing Kirkland’s projects. Among others, Miller is the manager of Kirkland Place Hotel Holdings, which is building a multi-use retail and hotel project in Cedar Mill.

Miller and Kirkland’s wife, Kristin Kirkland, are members of Hillsboro Development Group West.

No charges were filed against Kirkland. In fact, he has become one of the most important and high-profile developers in Southwest Washington.

In recent years, Kirkland has tackled much larger, more ambitious projects. He is the developer behind the Kirkland Tower and Hotel Indigo in Vancouver’s waterfront.

As part of his plea agreement, Miller consented to assist the feds with any investigation into the assets that Miller has a financial stake in.

“Defendant agrees to cooperate fully with the United States investigation identifying all property in which defendant had an interest… including those held by a spouse, nominee or third party,” the plea agreement reads.

Prosecutors sometimes agree to push for no prison time in return for a guilty plea. That is apparently not the case with Miller.

Prosecutors agreed to argue before the judge that Miller deserves credit for “accepting responsibility,” which often reduces the length of a sentence.

Ultimately, it is the judge in the case, not prosecutors, who will determine a sentence.

The US Attorney’s office also agreed that in return for the plea, it would refrain from charging Miller with any additional tax-related charges.

Beyond that, the Justice Department lawyers made no promises. “The United States reserves the right to prosecute the defendant for any offense based upon any other investigation…including for any fraud committed on any person or entity other than the United States.”

Miller was indicted in October 2019. He failed to show up for his scheduled arraignment on Dec. 2, of that year and was arrested four days later.

Miller served as chief financial officer of Kirkland Development and many other Kirkland companies, according to court filings.

Miller was paid at least $120,000 annually. He also got a car allowance and a cut of the profits from Kirkland’s real estate developments, according to federal documents.

Kirkland, who was also interviewed by investigators, said Miller was a “1099 employee,” a tax status that includes independent contractors. As a result, Kirkland companies did not withhold any federal income or employment taxes.

From 2008 to 2016, the government alleges Miller failed to file any tax return in five of those years and did not pay the full amount he owed in another four.

The IRS audited his returns and put him on a payment plan to cover the back taxes. In 2013, Miller stopped making payments on that plan, according to the indictment.

Beginning in 2013, Miller allegedly stopped depositing his checks in the bank. Instead, he cashed them or bought cashier’s checks, prosecutors claim.

Andrew Friedman, the assistant US attorney prosecuting Miller, declined to comment.

Heather Carroll, the federal public defender in Tacoma representing Miller, also refused a request for an interview.

Miller’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 17.

— Jeff Manning



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