A former bookkeeper working for a prominent pizzeria owner in Fairfield and Westchester counties is facing time behind bars after admitting to helping her boss evade paying federal taxes.
Queens Village resident Idalecia Lopes Santos, 59, has pleaded guilty in Bridgeport district court to one count of tax evasion for her role in helping Bruno DiFabio, the owner of several restaurants, avoid paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes.
Santos worked as an outside bookkeeper for DeFabio - who had restaurants in New Canaan; Wilton; Scarsdale; Stamford; Greenwich and Pound Ridge - while she was employed by two different New York-based accounting firms.
According to U.S. Attorney John Durham, Santos worked directly with DiFabio and his employees to determine relevant revenue, payroll and other operating figures for his businesses, and to assist in the preparation of corporate tax returns for the businesses, quarterly tax reporting regarding employee payroll, and the personal income tax returns for the owners.
Durham said that Santos admitted that she and others at her accounting firms knew that DiFabio and his businesses would engage in a practice where money was removed from the cash registers and not deposited into the restaurants’ operating bank accounts.
“Despite this knowledge, the accounting firms used the bank records to determine gross receipts of the businesses, and the cash that was removed from the registers was not reported to the IRS,” Durham noted. “This resulted in the understatement of income and taxes owed on DiFabio’s personal income tax returns.”
Additionally, Santos was aware that DiFabio used cash removed from the registers to pay wages for employees “under the table.” Several employees were off the books and others’ wages were not reported.
Santos remains released pending sentencing. She will face a maximum term of five years in prison when she is sentenced.
DiFabio, a self-admitted “pizza geek” who made a national name for himself and appeared on multiple cooking shows, pleaded guilty on Oct. 25 last year to one count of conspiracy to file false income tax returns and payroll tax returns. When he pleaded guilty, DiFabio agreed that the loss to the IRS in income taxes and employment taxes for the 2013 through 2015 tax years was $816,954. He is currently awaiting sentencing.
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