NewsLocal NewsInvestigations


Indictment: John Carnes spent $1M at KC-area casinos, took more than $800K while evading taxes

Carnes, a lawyer in Independence, was subject of previous I-Team investigations
John Carnes
Posted at 7:54 PM, Dec 21, 2022

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — An Independence attorney was arrested Wednesday, just one day after he was indicted by a federal grand jury on nine counts of tax evasion, obstruction and failing to pay personal taxes.

John Carnes has been the subject of several I-Team investigations.

According to allegations in the indictment, which was unsealed only after Carnes was arrested, Carnes spent $1.3 million at Kansas City-area casinos and took around $846,000, while evading paying his taxes during a period between 2012 to 2020.

Allegations of failing to pay taxes aren't new to Carnes.

In 2004, Carnes entered into an agreement with the Internal Revenue Service to pay off $88,707 in back taxes, the indictment says.

Carnes lost his law license after he went to prison in the 1990s for bribing members of the Independence City Council.

Carnes' license was reinstated in 2006. According to the indictment, Carnes stopped paying his back taxes once he had his license back.

The IRS launched several investigations into Carnes between 2009 and 2020.

According to the IRS, Carnes did not pay any federal income tax from 2006 to 2011.

In an effort to garnish Carnes' wages, the IRS said it levied Carnes' personal bank account in 2014, but that Carnes quit using the account thereafter.

From 2013 to 2015, the IRS claims Carnes withdrew $144,364 in cash from an account that lawyers are required to use for business purposes. Then, from 2016 to 2019, Carnes withdrew another $444,527 from another account lawyers use for business purposes.

According to the federal prosecutors, Carnes spent the money to gamble and pay personal expenses.

Carnes is charged with one count of obstruction that in part is tied to Independence city dealings.

Indictment tied in part to I-Team investigations

In 2018, the I-Team raised questions about Carnes' involvement with the Rockwood Golf Course project that cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The I-Team found receipts that showed Carnes met behind closed doors with city council members about the golf course and the $10 million Missouri City Power Plant deal.

According to the indictment, Carnes deposited $232,000 in "fees" received from the selling of both properties.

At the time, Carnes told the I-Team he had a client who was going to finance the Missouri City project, but that nothing ever came of it.

In regards to the purchase of Rockwood, the I-Team was tipped off Carnes was involved in those meetings. In 2018, Carnes told the I-Team he hoped the city would buy the property and turn it into a park.

Carnes denied having any other involvement in the deal.

After the I-Team ran a three-part series on Carnes and the city's dealings, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began investigating the projects.

A sunshine request revealed the FBI was asking for city records that pertained to the I-Team's stories.

According to the indictment, Carnes received cash from clients but didn't deposit the funds into his bank accounts.

Carnes is charged with on count of evasion, one count of obstruction and six counts of failure to pay taxes.

Carnes appeared before a federal judge on Wednesday, where he and his attorney waived the reading of the charges.

He was released on a personal recognizance bond and ordered to appear in court at 10 a.m. on Jan. 5, 2023.