A nationally known food celebrity known as "Lord of the Pies" who owns restaurants in Westchester and Fairfield counties has admitted to filing false income tax returns and payroll tax returns totaling nearly a million dollars.
Bruno DiFabio, 49, of Ridgefield has ownership interest in the following: Pinocchio Pizza in New Canaan and Wilton, Connecticut; Amore Pizza in Scarsdale, Amore Cucina and Bar in Stamford; ReNapoli Pizza in Old Greenwich.
DiFabio’s business partner, Stamford resident Steven Cioffi, pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and assisting in the filing of a false tax return on Sept. 24. He awaits sentencing.
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in New England, announced DiFabio, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty Thursday, Oct. 25 before U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to a federal tax offense.
DiFabio made his first pizza dough as a teenager in a little Italian restaurant in Springdale near Stamford. He has won numerous awards, won six world pizza championship and has been featured on the Food Network several times.
According to court documents and statements made in court:
DiFabio and others in the businesses engaged in a practice whereby cash was removed from the cash register and not deposited into the restaurant’s operating bank account.
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 Internal Revenue Service.
DiFabio 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.”
By paying various expenses in cash and “off the books,” DiFabio, his business partner and others facilitated the manipulation of 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 pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to file false income tax returns and payroll tax returns. When he is sentenced, he faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, a fine of up to approximately $1.6 million, and full restitution to the IRS.
DiFabio has been released on a $100,000 bond pending sentencing, which is not yet scheduled.
The investigation is being conducted by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.