New York bookkeeper admits to helping Ridgefield man evade taxes
A bookkeeper who lives in New York pleaded guilty earlier this month for her role in helping a Connecticut restaurant owner evade federal taxes, the state Department of Justice said.
Idalecia Lopes Santos, 59, of Queens Village, N.Y., waived her right to be indicted and pleaded guilty in Bridgeport court to one count of tax evasion. The DOJ said she had been employed by two different New York-based accounting firms.
Santos worked as an outside bookkeeper to Ridgefield resident Bruno DiFabio, the owner of several pizzerias in Connecticut and New York, doing business as Pinocchio Pizza in Wilton, Amore Cucina and Bar in Stamford, ReNapoli Pizza in Old Greenwich, Amore Pizza in Scarsdale, N.Y., and Pinocchio Pizza in Pound Ridge, N.Y.
DiFabio pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to file false income tax returns and payroll tax returns on Oct. 25, 2018. In pleading guilty, he agreed that the loss to the IRS was $816,954 between 2013 and 2015. He awaits sentencing.
As bookkeeper, Santos worked directly with DiFabio and his employees to figure out relevant payroll, revenue and other operating figures for DiFabio’s businesses, the DOJ said. Santos’ role as a bookkeeper meant she helped prepare corporate tax returns for the businesses, quarterly tax reporting for employee payroll and the personal income tax returns for the owners.
“In pleading guilty, Santos admitted that she and others at the accounting firms knew that DiFabio and his businesses engaged in a practice whereby cash was removed from the cash registers and not deposited into the restaurants’ operating bank accounts,” the DOJ said.
Despite that knowledge, the accounting firms used bank records to determine the gross receipts of the businesses. The DOJ said the cash removed from the register was never reported to the IRS, resulting in DiFabio’s personal income tax returns being understated.
Santos and others at her accounting firms were aware DiFabio and his businesses used cash taken from the registers to pay certain wages for DiFabio and employees without reporting the amount to the IRS, the DOJ said. Certain employees had wages paid entirely “off the books.” Some other employees had portions of their wages go unreported to the IRS.
A tax-evasion charge carries a maximum term of five years in prison. Santos was released pending sentencing. Her sentencing date has not yet been set.
On Sept. 24, 2018, DiFabio’s business partner in some of his restaurants, Steven Cioffi, pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and assisting in the filing of a false tax return. He also awaits sentencing.