Boston - A Middleton couple was sentenced today in federal court for conspiring to defraud the United States by filing false income tax returns and conspiring to illegally structure cash transactions to evade reporting requirements.
Joseph A. Pingaro, Jr., a/k/a “Junior,” 56, and his wife, Christine A. Scola, 53, were sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Patti B. Saris. Pingaro was sentenced to four years in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release and Scola was sentenced to two years probation, of which the first six months are to be served in a halfway house. The defendants also were jointly ordered to pay $900,000 as forfeiture; $50,000 each in criminal fines; $8,000 each in costs of prosecution; and to jointly pay the Internal Revenue Service more than $500,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest.
The government and the defendants confirmed in court today that the defendants have already paid more than $500,000 to the IRS and will have paid approximately $1 million of the forfeiture, fines and costs of prosecution by the end of today. Scola was ordered to surrender to the halfway house on March 9, 2012, and Pingaro was ordered to surrender to begin serving his prison sentence on Oct. 1, 2012.
On April 20, 2011, Pingaro and Scola both pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to defraud the United States by filing false income tax returns and a conspiracy to illegally structure cash transactions to evade reporting requirements.
Pingaro is the sole owner and operator of J&J Metals, a scrap metal yard in Roxbury where Scola is the bookkeeper. The defendants transferred large amounts of money, totaling millions of dollars, from the J&J business bank account into their personal bank account. Scola then withdrew cash from the personal account in a series of withdrawals, each just under $10,000, over consecutive days. Pingaro and Scola used substantial amounts of the cash to make large personal expenditures, both directly and indirectly. The indirect personal cash expenditures were accomplished both by using cash to purchase money orders and bank checks that were then used for personal expenditures, and by paying third parties to purchase money orders and bank checks which were then used for the defendants’ personal expenditures. Pingaro then falsely claimed on his income tax returns that almost all of the cash withdrawn had been used for legitimate deductible business expenses for J&J Metals.
Pingaro and Scola’s scheme was designed to conceal the actual profits of J&J Metals and evade federal income tax. Scola’s banking activity was designed to further this evasion by avoiding the requirement that financial institutions must file a Currency Transaction Report with the government for each cash transaction exceeding $10,000. Similarly, Pingaro and Scola conspired to avoid U.S. Postal reporting requirements for the purchase of $3,000 or more in money orders from any one location in a single day, by conducting a series of transactions over consecutive business days and in various locations.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Boston Field Division; William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston; and Robert Bethel, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service made the announced today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael L. Tabak of Ortiz’s Organized Crime Strike Force Unit, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Harman Burkart of Ortiz’s Internet and Computer Crimes Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary B. Murrane of Ortiz’s Asset Forfeiture Unit.