A local sports memorabilia shop owner stopped paying his taxes in 2002

The owner of two sports card and memorabilia shops in Pierce County pleaded guilty Friday to not paying employment taxes for more than 50 workers, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Donald A. Knutsen owned the Northwest Sportscards shops in Tacoma and University Place for more than 27 years, and stopped paying employment taxes as early as 2002, prosecutors alleged.

The University Place location apparently closed in recent months.

Knutsen admitted in his plea agreement that he withheld $234,769 from employees' paychecks for income, Social Security and Medicare taxes between 2008 and 2016 but didn't properly report or pay the money to the Internal Revenue Service.

"Instead, Knutsen used the money to acquire inventory and promote his business," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a release. "Because Knutsen was not filing tax forms or paying taxes to the IRS, the employees working at the shops failed to accrue individual Social Security benefits."

Knutsen also failed to pay $122,350 in employer-owned taxes.

He faces up to five years behind bars when he is sentenced July 20, and he's agreed to pay the taxes with interest.

As for Knutsen's personal income tax returns, the U.S. Attorney's Office said he hasn't filed any since 2000.