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NBA referee Mauer faces tax charges

He and at least 11 others accused of airline ticket scam

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MINNEAPOLIS — NBA referee Ken Mauer was charged with tax evasion, the latest league official implicated in an airline ticket scam.

The 45-year-old referee was charged with tax evasion and obstructing federal tax laws.

The indictment says Mauer received "substantial taxable income" from 1989 through 1994 but failed to declare it. The indictment did not specify how much income he failed to report or how much he may owe in taxes.

About a dozen other referees have faced similar charges. Like them, Mauer is accused of being reimbursed for first-class airline tickets after buying less-expensive tickets.

Under their union contract, referees were allowed to downgrade their first-class tickets to coach and keep the difference as a way of supplementing their incomes. But the Internal Revenue Service required them to report the excess reimbursements as income on their tax returns.

Mauer did not immediately return a message left on his answering machine.

Dianna Case, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said she didn't know the name of his lawyer and that the Justice Department attorneys handling the case left for Washington shortly after the indictment was handed up Tuesday evening.

At least 11 other NBA officials pleaded guilty earlier. Most were fined a few thousand dollars, put on probation and ordered to pay their back taxes. Some also had to serve short periods of home detention. The NBA reinstated several of them.

The indictment says Mauer filed false income tax returns for 1989 through 1994 that either underreported his income or overstated his business expenses. It said he also obtained receipts for flights he did not take or that showed costs more than he incurred.

It also said he submitted false airline ticket receipts to the NBA, causing the NBA to file W-2 forms that understated his income, and gave false information to his tax preparer.

The indictment alleges Mauer made false statements to an IRS agent in 1994, during an audit of his 1991 and 1992 tax returns.