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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A Rogersville man was sentenced Friday to five years in federal prison for running a boat building scheme that defrauded customers out of more than $4 million.

Michael David Dismer, 53, was sentenced for tax evasion for failing to pay more than $768,000 in state and federal taxes, federal prosecutors said.

“Not only did this defendant steal millions of dollars from his customers, but he stole from the public by evading taxes he owed on his lucrative business operations,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore. “Despite his many efforts to hide his income and property from the IRS, he has been held accountable for his criminal actions and will be forced to pay his fair share.”

Dismer was also ordered to pay $4.3 million in restitution to his victims.

On April 14, 2021, Dismer pleaded guilty to tax evasion. Dismer has operated at least eight different businesses since 1993. His most recent businesses were Worldwide Construction, Inc., and Lakeland Marine Builders, LLC, at Stockton, Mo., which built large boats, barges, and tugboats for customers. 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 newly created business entities.

For example, prosecutors said Dismer received $96,250 from the Village of Igiugig (an unincorporated Native American village in Alaska), which was the proceeds of a federal economic development grant, in December 2015. Dismer immediately withdrew $70,000 of those funds and used it to purchase his Stockton construction facility, including the land and shop. Dismer then transferred title to the Stockton property to Cardgames on Motorcycles, Inc., in which the sole shareholder was a 21-year-old person, to attempt to keep the real estate out of the reach of the IRS and other creditors. The Igiugig Tribal Council paid Dismer a total of $242,375 to build a push-style truckable tugboat, but received nothing in return.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Dismer was required to sell the Stockton property, with the net proceeds of the sale to be paid as restitution to his victims. Dismer also was required to liquidate all of his other assets so that the proceeds can be used to pay restitution to his victims.

Federal prosecutors said Dismer operated at least eight different businesses since 1993 that promised to build specific vessels for customers around the world. He would stop operating under a business name that accumulated unpaid tax assessment, and continued earning income through new businesses.

Dismer admitted he defrauded 22 customers by not delivering vessels worth $4.3 million which he had promised and instead diverting funds for his personal use.

At least 14 customers received incomplete, inoperable or unseaworthy vessels after paying him more than $2.9 million and at least seven other customers did not receive any boats despite paying him more than $1.3 million, prosecutors said.

Federal prosecutors said Dismer also did not file tax income tax returns from 2009 to 2017. He also admitted that he collected payroll taxes from his employees from 1996 to 2007 but did not pay the funds to the government.