Florida Businessman Charged with Tax Fraud
Allegedly Used Business Funds to Pay for Use of His Yacht and Other Personal Expenses, Also Failed to Pay Employment Taxes to the IRS
A federal grand jury indicted a Hillsboro Beach, Florida, businessman today for tax evasion, employment tax fraud, and other tax crimes, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
According to the indictment, Vincent Celentano owned and operated several businesses in Florida and Michigan, including WCIS Media LLC (WCIS), which advertised on behalf of health care providers and solicited accident victims for medical services and personal injury legal services. In 2013, Celentano allegedly used more than $360,000 from his businesses’ bank accounts to pay for personal expenses, including credit card payments and fuel and sundries for his yacht, “Ciao Bella,” and fraudulently caused the expenses to be recorded as business expenditures. That same year, Celentano also allegedly sold ownership interests in entities under his control to a third-party buyer for approximately $2.7 million, but demanded payment of his profits in a way that prevented accountants from accurately reporting income from the sale to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). As alleged, despite earning gross income in excess of the filing threshold, Celentano willfully failed to file his individual income tax returns from 2013 through 2016.
In addition, the indictment further alleges that from October 2013 to February 2018, Celentano conspired with others to withhold payroll taxes from employees of his business, Integrated HCS Practice Management LLC, but not pay those withholdings to the IRS. The indictment charges that instead, the conspirators used the funds to cover the business’s operating expenses and their personal expenses. When the IRS made efforts to collect the payroll taxes due, Celentano and his coconspirators allegedly thwarted its efforts by using a nominee entity to pay employees, and making fraudulent representations to the IRS about who was responsible for paying the taxes. According to the indictment, Celentano willfully failed to pay over approximately $216,700 in payroll taxes that were owed.
If convicted, Celentano faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for each tax evasion and conspiracy charge, three years in prison for each count of failure to pay over employment taxes, and a statutory maximum sentence of one year on each count of willful failure to file his own tax returns. The defendant also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Trial Attorneys Mark McDonald and Eric C. Schmale of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division’s enforcement efforts can be found on the division’s website.