Gradow gets 15 months |

Gradow gets 15 months

Chad Abraham

Aspen resident George Gradow was sentenced Thursday to 15 months in federal prison and nearly $130,000 in restitution for obstructing the tax man.Gradow, well-known around town and the husband of former Playboy Playmate Barbi Benton, pleaded guilty in August to obstructing the Internal Revenue Service. That was five years after federal investigators said he began changing interest rates and due dates on the promissory notes of his Carbondale-based company. And from August 2000 to March 2001, he ordered the employees of the Churchill Group to do the same.U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Jeff Dorschner said Gradow must report by June 12 to an institution of the federal Bureau of Prisons’ choosing. His sentencing was originally scheduled for Dec. 19.The Churchill Group was set up to handle his investments and other financial assets, Dorschner said previously. Gradow instructed the company’s chief financial officer to send him the original promissory notes and real estate leases. Investigators said he altered interest rates, due dates and lease terms.”He then destroyed the original notes and leases, knowing the altered documents would be reviewed and relied upon by the IRS,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release at the time.Gradow made millions in the mobile-home industry and owns a 27,500-square-foot mansion in Starwood dubbed “The Copper Palace.”His lawyer also released a statement at the time of sentencing. Gradow will serve time after “an extremely trying and difficult five-year period of intense investigation, scrutiny and negotiation by and with the United States government,” it said.Gradow’s restitution bill to the IRS is $128,185.44, and he was also fined $5,000. After prison he will serve a year of supervised probation.He was also ordered to cooperate fully with the IRS in the filing of all his corporate and personal income taxes.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is

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