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bergen county, n.J., insurance broker sentenced to five years in prison for failing to pay taxes, making illegal donations to federal campaign



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 11, 2012


 

NEWARK, N.J. – A Bergen County, N.J., insurance broker was sentenced today to 60 months for failing to pay more than $2 million in personal income taxes and using straw donors to make almost $100,000 in illegal contributions to a federal campaign committee, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Joseph Bigica, 47, of Franklin Lakes, N.J., previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Faith S. Hochberg to an Information charging him with one count of corruptly interfering with the due administration of the internal revenue laws and one count of conspiring to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). Judge Hochberg imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From January 2000 to September 2011, Bigica was employed as an insurance broker through his companies Joseph Bigica Inc. and Joseph Bigica LLC. Bigica admitted that during that time, he failed to file timely tax returns for calendar years 1999 through 2006, or pay his taxes when they were due.

In July 2007, the IRS notified Bigica that there was no record of his tax returns for calendar years 2003 and 2004. After receiving the notice, Bigica filed tax returns in 2008 for calendar years 1999 through 2006 showing that he had gross income totaling $5.8 million on which $1.49 million in taxes were due. After also filing for tax years 2007 and 2008, for an additional $1.73 million in income on which $507,166 was due, Bigica claimed to the IRS in 2009 that he was unable to pay the total outstanding tax liability.

Bigica admitted that from April 2000 to September 2011, he took steps to conceal his income and assets from the IRS, using bank accounts in the names of companies he controlled and in the name of his spouse, using a credit card in the name of an employee and her husband, and making extensive use of a Jersey City, N.J., check cashing business. The check casher handled approximately 241 checks totaling more than $2.5 million payable to Bigica, companies with which he was affiliated, and others.

While claiming he was unable to pay his tax obligations, Bigica spent substantial amounts of money on personal expenses such as Lamborghini and Ferrari automobiles, pool service, vacations, a residence at a club in St. Thomas, and unlawful contributions to a federal campaign committee.

Bigica admitted that between April 2005 and May 2009, he conspired with others to make approximately $98,600 in illegal contributions to the campaign committee of a federal candidate. He used 19 straw donors – including family members, business associates and others – whom Bigica then reimbursed using checks drawn on accounts in the name of his spouse or companies he controlled. No one associated with the campaign has been accused of any wrongdoing.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Hochberg sentenced Bigica to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $2.1 million, plus interest, in restitution.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark; and IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen, as well as criminal investigators from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s sentence.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zahid N. Quraishi and Amy D. Luria of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

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Defense counsel: Raymond F. Flood Esq., Hackensack, N.J.

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