Roger Stone is not cooperating. But soon, he might not have a choice.
On Monday, Justice Department prosecutors asked a federal judge to compel Stone and his wife to turn over all of their financial statements and bank account information from 2017 to the present.
The request is part of a tax evasion lawsuit brought against the Stones last year. But for the MAGA world’s preeminent cocktail-clutching coxcomb, it could carry ramifications well beyond the IRS.
The judge’s order would force the Stones to disclose a potential treasure trove of evidence. Prosecutors would obtain records of any financial activity of Stone tied to the Jan. 6 riot and “Stop the Steal” efforts, as well as potential payments from pardon-seekers, politicians, and private boosters—and, possibly, information about accounts that the Stones haven’t yet disclosed.
So far, however, the Stones have refused to comply.
Federal prosecutors filed the multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Stones last April. The suit alleges that the Stones defaulted on $2 million in unpaid taxes going back a decade and, through various schemes, attempted to conceal money and other assets from government collectors.
The docket has been quiet for two months while the parties entered mandatory mediation talks. But they appear to have come out of those negotiations swinging.
According to prosecutors, the Stones have so far provided “no explanation” for their failure to produce the records. The documents in question, they wrote, have been “at all times, within the Stone Defendants’ possession, custody, and control.”
The feds have already rifled through the past finances of one of Stone’s entities: Drake Ventures LLC, Stone’s consulting company, which DOJ lawyers say shielded unreported income and expenses over the years, allowing the Stones to live a lavish lifestyle while putting off their IRS debt.
Prosecutors have demanded all communications with Drake Ventures from Jan. 1, 2017, to the present, as well as “[a]ll statements for any financial account” tied to Stone “for any time period from January 1, 2017, to the present.” The feds also want the Stones to account for all transfers between Drake Ventures and the Stones over the same timeline.
Those records could verify the Stones’ finances, corroborate statements from their accountants, and possibly reveal activity related to other entities or accounts. Those would include the Roger Stone Defense Fund, organizations that financed events surrounding the Jan. 6 rallies, and any payments for pardon advocacy in the waning weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency.
The request means the DOJ also wants to see how Stone used Drake Ventures over the last year, while he was knowingly under the legal microscope.
Some of that information is already public.
The Daily Beast reported in February that, since the tax lawsuit was filed, Stone—who says his wife has been battling stage 4 cancer—has revived his political consulting career. Over the last year, conservative candidates across the country have paid the far-right fashionista nearly $200,000 in consulting fees, all of it, according to campaign finance data, through Drake Ventures—a fact that Stone’s lawyers say shows he has nothing to hide.
Still, Stone’s attorney, Brian Harris, is dragging out the proceedings. He argued in court filings that prosecutors want the Stones to dig up records the feds presumably already have, thanks to subpoenas to third parties such as Stone’s accountants. Further, Harris says his clients won’t hand anything over until they get a peek at the documents in the government’s possession—a request prosecutors shot down as meritless, citing legal precedent.
Martin Sheil, who served for 30 years as an IRS special agent for criminal investigations, said Harris’ argument could pique the judge’s interest.
“The defense is taking a real risk with getting hit with either a contempt charge or even possibly a frivolous lawsuit or motion fine, because their position borders on inane,” Sheil told The Daily Beast.
Sheil also noted that prosecutors would want to know about any cryptocurrency accounts Stone may have maintained on the sly, as well as possible foreign accounts, both of which the sweeping requests would appear to cover.
The Daily Beast previously reported that one pardon-seeker—Joel Greenberg, convicted sex trafficker and “wingman” to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)—offered to pay Stone an extra $250,000 in Bitcoin to sweeten the pardon pot. And BuzzFeed News reported in 2020 that Stone had solicited money overseas, including from a Turkish billionaire.
But Stone’s secretive financial life spiders out in several directions.
There’s the untold amount of money funneled into his legal defense fund, the status of which is vague and, according to its website, just an extension of Stone personally. Just like his nominally separate family defense fund.
Then there’s “Committee to Stop the Steal,” a political nonprofit that longtime Stone affiliates set up just ahead of the 2020 election. That group has failed to submit numerous tax filings, including any records of its fundraising and expenses.
Stone has also reportedly lobbied for pardons for a number of paying clients in addition to Greenberg. Convicted fraudster Stephen Alford claims in court documents to have paid $800,000 for a pardon for himself and fugitive felon Andy Khawaja, with the vast majority going to Stone, who included their names alongside Greenberg’s in his “Stone Plan.”
However, as Stone’s attorney suggests, it’s still possible that the DOJ has already assembled a complete folio of Stone’s finances over the last five years.
But if Stone feels the evidence could open up liabilities in other legal arenas, he has options. For one, he could invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, though that move is more commonly associated with testimony and rarely applied to document production. More likely, his lawyers could file for a protective order that would wall off the evidence in this case from other branches of the Justice Department.
Sheil, however, noted that prosecutors would have gathered “every drop of evidence” before confronting Stone as they have.
“I suspect that the feds have come across some inconsistency between what they have derived from the accountants and what Stone is representing, and they are trying their hardest to pin it down before going to court and possibly having something blow up in their face,” he said.
Sheil pointed to a parallel in the trial of Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign manager and Stone’s old business partner.
“The accountants responsible for preparing Manafort’s tax returns which were in question were caught in zugzwang, where they had no good moves left, only bad ones,” Shiel recalled. “It ultimately came out that the accountants lied on the tax forms for Manafort because they did not want to lose a ‘whale’ for a client. But their testimony in court was quite compelling when they stated that they repeatedly asked Manafort whether he had foreign bank accounts and Manafort commanded the accountants to say he did not.”
If Stone has withheld key financial documents, Shiel said, that act of concealment would demonstrate “the essence of intent”—a necessary step to securing a guilty verdict.
The Daily Beast reached out to Stone’s lawyer, but did not receive a reply.