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Press Release

Florida Landscaper Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A Stuart man pleaded guilty today to filing a false tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan for the Southern District of Florida.

Joseph J. Ferry III, 80, pleaded guilty to one count of willfully filing a false corporate income tax return for his company, Ferry Enterprises Inc., for the tax year 2015.

According to court documents, Ferry’s company provided landscaping services under contracts with Martin County and the City of Port Saint Lucie and served residential and commercial customers in the Treasure Coast area.

Ferry filed false tax returns with the IRS, which understated the total income earned by Ferry Enterprises and Ferry himself for tax years 2012 through 2016. Income generated from Ferry Enterprises was deposited into bank accounts held in the name of the company; however, Ferry used funds from the corporate bank accounts to pay his personal expenses, including payments on his personal mortgage and loans, purchases of firearms, home renovations, and jewelry. Ferry also withdrew more than $2.9 million of cash from the business’ bank accounts. As part of his plea, Ferry admitted that he also willfully filed false individual income tax returns for the tax years 2011 through 2016. Ferry admitted that the tax loss for the years 2011 through 2016 was $556,396.

Sentencing is set for July 26. Ferry faces a statutory maximum sentence of three years in prison, and faces a term of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman commended Special Agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Trial Attorneys Allison J. Garnett and Sean Beaty of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case. 

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.

Updated May 20, 2019

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 19-550