PEQUOT LAKES (WJON News) - The owners of a Central Minnesota dog rescue organization have been charged with five felony counts of filing false tax returns and failure to pay income tax.

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The Crow Wing County Attorney’s Office says Shannon and Russel Steele of Pequot Lakes, owners of Northern Lakes Rescue, a dog rescue nonprofit, withdrew thousands of dollars from the nonprofit and used the money to buy appliances, video games, airfare, and more.

The criminal complaint says Shannon Steele was the only employee of the company with access to the nonprofit’s bank account and records. She allegedly withdrew thousands of dollars each year and used the money for personal expenses. The couple allegedly failed to report more than $303,000 in income on tax returns between 2017 and 2021, and, as a result, avoided paying taxes on that income.

Each of the defendants is charged with five felony counts of filing false tax returns and five counts of failing to pay income tax. Each count carries a maximum of 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, or both.

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