Two Ohio Businessmen Plead Guilty To Evading Income Taxes On More Than $12 Million

On Thursday, August 24, 2017, Acting Deputy Assistance Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg announced that two former Cincinnati, Ohio residents had pleaded guilty to tax and structuring charges. Documents filed in the case reveal that 49-year-old Vito Stramaglia is the owner of Vita Contracting Companies Inc. Vito pleaded guilty to tax evasion and structuring cash transactions to avoid currency transactions reports.

His associate 31-year-old Hugo Oliver Morales-Santamaria pleaded guilty to structuring cash transactions to avoid currency transactions reports, as well as conspiring to defraud the United States. Since at least 2006, Stramaglia owned roughly 20 demolition businesses and other businesses. He owned the Ice Box, which is an ice cream dairy bar in Cleves, Ohio. He also owned a car wash, adult toy store and nightclub in Florida.

Stramaglia was accused of not filing an individual or corporate income tax return since 1992. Between the years of 2008 and 2013, Stramaglia’s demolition businesses earned at least $12 million. The defendant admitted that his failure to file and pay taxes resulted in a loss ranging from $1 million to $2.5 million to the United States Treasury. In an attempt to hide his income, Stramaglia placed his businesses in the names of nominees.

Santamaria opened bank accounts in his name, while allowing Stramaglia to maintain control over the funds in the accounts. Both defendants wrote, signed and cashed checks and made withdrawals in amounts less than $10,000 on consecutive days to try to avoid bank-reporting requirements. Between 2011 and 2012, the pair engaged in cash transactions exceeding $1.4 million in value. Stramaglia also provided false social security numbers to car dealers and banks when filing forms with the IRS.

In total, Stramaglia used more than $3.4 million from his businesses to purchase more than 20 luxury vehicles and at least four residences using the names of others. The defendants were also accused of paying day laborers in cash and failing to withhold or report payroll taxes. Santamaria admitted to paying himself a weekly salary and using the money from the demolition bank accounts to pay for food, clothing, gym memberships, lodging, and even tuition for a private school.

District Judge Timothy Black made it clear that sentencing would be scheduled in 70 days. Both defendants face a statutory maximum sentence of five years on each count.

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