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Nationally Known Fairfield County Restaurant Owner Sentenced For Tax Crime

Bruno DiFabio
Bruno DiFabio Photo Credit: Twitter/@brunoscience

A nationally known celebrity chef known as “Lord of the Pies” who owns restaurants in Westchester and Fairfield counties will spend time behind bars after admitting to not paying taxes.

Bruno DiFabio, age 51, of Ridgefield, was sentenced on Thursday, May 6 to 30 days in prison, followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to a federal tax offense in 2018.

Specifically, DiFabio pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to file false income tax returns and payroll tax returns. 

Currently, DiFabio has ownership interests in several pizza restaurants in Connecticut and New York, including: 

  • Pinocchio Pizza LLC, doing business as Pinocchio Pizza in New Canaan; 
  • Top Oven Restaurant Corp., doing business as Pinocchio Pizza in Wilton; 
  • DiFabio Brothers Pizza Corp., doing business as Amore Pizza in Scarsdale; 
  • Odell Pizza, Inc., doing business as Amore Cucina and Bar in Stamford; 
  • Nepperhan Restaurants Group, Inc., doing business as ReNapoli Pizza, in Old Greenwich;
  • Homefield Restaurant Corp., doing business as Pinocchio Pizza in Pound Ridge.

Acting U.S. Attorney Leonard Boyle said that DiFabio and business partner Steven Cioffi engaged in a scheme where cash was removed from cash registers and not deposited into the restaurants’ operating bank accounts.

The businesses’ outside bookkeeper and accountant used the bank records to determine business gross receipts.

When cash was removed from the register and not deposited into the business bank account, the cash would not be reported to the IRS. Boyle said that DiFabio and Cioffi also knew that certain employees had their wages paid in cash, and that a certain number of the employees were paid either a portion or the entirety of their wages “off the books.” 

Boyle said that by paying various expenses in cash and “off the books,” DiFabio, Cioffi, and others were able to manipulate the net income reported to the IRS and the underpayment of withholding taxes to the IRS.

As a result of the scheme, the loss to the IRS in income taxes and employment taxes for the 2013 through 2015 tax years was $816,954. 

DiFabio has paid approximately $125,000 in restitution as of May 6, and he has agreed to provide additional assets, including interests in his home and businesses, to make full restitution. 

DiFabio remains released on a $100,000 bond and is required to report to prison on Monday, July 12.

On Sept. 24, 2018, Cioffi, pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and assisting in the filing of a false tax return and he was sentenced to 30 days in prison and must make full restitution.

On Sept. 24, 2019, Idalecia Lopes Santos, a bookkeeper who worked for DiFabio, pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion. She was sentenced to three years of probation.

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