April 10, 2012; Source: Wenatchee World

William Ballantine, the 62-year-old newspaper heir and businessman, has pled guilty to tax evasion and money laundering. Ballantine admitted filing a false tax return in the wake of transferring $395,000 between charitable trusts in 2008 and 2009, pocketing all but $35,000. Besides facing jail time and fines, he is required to repay $370,000 to the National Philanthropic Trust, which served as the umbrella to the groups he defrauded as well as $113,000 in unpaid taxes. William Ballantine’s mother, Morley Ballantine, had established charitable foundations for her children at the Trust.

Ballantine apparently convinced the pastor at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Durango, Colo. to receive the money and transfer it to Ballentine’s personal account. Ballantine told the pastor it was to be used to establish a charity for poor children in Antigua. The money was actually used for remodeling a house for his brother-in-law and upgrading his own cabin in Washington, he said in court on Tuesday. He let the church keep the remaining $35,000.

According to the Wenatchee World, Ballantine has donated heavily to Leavenworth, Wash.-area arts and recreation groups, including the Icicle Creek Center for the Arts, Barn Beach Reserve and the Cascade Quest Sled Dog Race. In an odd twist, Ballantine told U.S. Chief District Judge Wiley Daniel on Tuesday that he did not need the money. Having committed the fraud in 2008 and 2009, he inherited $9 million from his mother’s estate a year later. The judge called the entire plot “bizarre.”

“Why’d you do that?” Judge Daniel asked.

After a moment of silence and a sigh, Ballantine responded, “All I can say is I have such a complicated relationship with my mother. Your honor, I’m just not measuring up as my other siblings have.” –Ruth McCambridge