Long Island Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Obstructing Tax Laws
Provided False Business Records to Impede an Internal Revenue Service Investigation
In Central Islip, New York, a Brentwood, New York, business owner pleaded guilty to corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the due administration of the internal revenue laws, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
According to court filings and facts presented at the plea proceeding, Jose Cerritos (Cerritos) owned and operated La Centro Americana Corp. (La Centro), a wholesale food distribution business based in Bay Shore, New York, that sold imported food products for resale to New York metropolitan area customers. Cerritos diverted cash receipts from the business bank accounts, which caused La Centro’s tax returns for 2011 and 2012 to significantly underreport the size of the business - and its profits - to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). He also filed his own individual income tax returns, falsely understating the income he received from La Centro. Cerritos also gave the IRS false business records, which purported to show La Centro’s yearly sales for 2011 and 2012, but omitted millions of dollars in gross receipts for each year.
United States District Court Judge Joanna Seybert, who accepted Cerritos’ guilty plea, scheduled sentencing for March 6, 2020. Cerritos faces a statutory maximum sentence of three years in prison. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman thanked special agents of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Trial Attorneys Sarah Ranney and Mark Kotila of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case.