Roberts, who is the daughter of a retired District elementary school teacher, told The Washington Post in a 2003 profile that her work is based on fantasy rather than autobiography. Her books are written primarily for and about African-American women. She told the Post at the time that she had sold life insurance and then started writing erotic stories in 1997 for the Internet. She is also a publisher, whose imprint is known as Strebor Books International.
A call to Roberts’ cell phone seeking comment wasn’t returned late Monday.
At the top of the list of tax-evading businesses compiled by Franchot’s office was Worldwide Internet Sweepstakes LLC. The Rockville-based company allegedly owes Maryland nearly $2.8 million, the agency said.
Efforts to reach Worldwide Internet Sweepstakes or Brent Molovinsky, who was identified by the comptroller’s office as the officer assessed for the liability, were unsuccessful.
The list is part of the comptroller’s “Caught in the Web” program that aims to shame tax evaders into paying up, Franchot said. He said the companies and individuals on this year’s list owe nearly $15 million in unpaid taxes, penalties and interest and have failed to pay or settle on a payment plan for at least six months. Seventeen of the 50 on the list are located in the Washington, D.C. metro area, the agency said.
“We’re pretty confident that most of these people had the resources or have the resources right now to pay but they just choose to lawyer up and avoid their responsibilities,” Franchot said.
Franchot said the people and businesses end up on the list only after the department has exhausted all other efforts to collect, including taking steps such as garnishing wages or placing liens against their property. The current list includes liabilities of nearly $3.7 million in back taxes, penalties, and interest from 25 people and more than $11 million from 25 businesses. Since its inception in 2000, the program has shaken loose more than $27 million, the agency said.
Sharonne R. Bonardi, director of the Comptroller of Maryland’s Compliance Division, said her agency lacks the authority to bring criminal cases of tax evasion but sometimes partners with the state Attorney General. But officials in the Comptroller’s office said those tend to be pursued only in extreme cases because the cases can be legally complicated and the litigation drawn out.
The full list of businesses and individuals can be found here.