In a release Wednesday, prosecutors announced the indictment against the doctor, who practices in Lawrence and Shawnee. Vernon is a national figure often called upon by news agencies to discuss obesity, diabetes and low-carbohydrate diets.
The Atkins craze was apparently quite beneficial to Vernon. She co-authored an Atkins book in 2004, a year after the accidental death of Dr. Robert Atkins. Between 2003 and 2008, she earned approximately $778,686 for consulting services provided to American Nutritionals Inc., a business founded by the late doctor.
According to the indictment, Vernon was also the subject of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS seized and levied its way to collecting close to $2 million from her between 1999 and 2007 in order to cover taxes, interest and penalties that she allegedly failed to pay between 1991 and 2005.
In addition, Kansas federal prosecutors allege that Vernon provided UNB Bank with false copies of her 2006 and 2007 tax returns as part of a loan application in September of 2009 for a home refinance in Lawrence. Prosecutors maintain that she never filed tax returns in those years.
The indictment covers Vernon's alleged actions from 2003 to 2010 in Douglas County. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each count of tax evasion, and 30 years and a fine of up to $1 million for the false-statement charge.