Two Ohio Businessmen Associated with Demolition Companies Pleaded Guilty to Tax Charges
Evaded Income Taxes on More than $12 Million
Two former Cincinnati, Ohio residents pleaded guilty today to tax and structuring charges, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
According to documents filed with the court, Vito Stramaglia, 49, owner of Vito Contracting Companies Inc., pleaded guilty to tax evasion and structuring cash transactions to avoid currency transactions reports. His associate, Hugo Oliver Morales-Santamaria, 31, pleaded guilty to structuring cash transactions to avoid currency transactions reports and conspiring to defraud the United States.
Since at least 2006, Stramaglia owned approximately 20 demolition businesses and other businesses, including the Ice Box, an ice cream dairy bar located in Cleves, Ohio, a car wash and an adult toy store and nightclub in Florida. Stramaglia had not filed an individual or corporate income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) since 1992, until he learned of the IRS’s criminal investigation. Between 2008 and 2013, his demolition businesses earned over $12 million. Stramaglia admitted his failure to file returns and pay taxes during this period caused a loss to the U.S. Treasury of between $1 million and $2.5 million.
To hide his income from detection, Stramaglia placed his businesses in the names of nominees, to include Santamaria. Santamaria opened bank accounts in his name, while Stramaglia controlled the funds in the accounts. Both Stramaglia and Santamaria wrote, signed, and cashed numerous checks and made cash withdrawals in amounts less than $10,000 on consecutive days to evade bank-reporting requirements. In 2011 and 2012 alone, they engaged in cash transactions that exceeded $1.4 million. To further conceal his use of funds, Stramaglia also provided false social security numbers to banks and car dealers when forms were prepared and filed with the IRS reporting cash transactions in excess of $10,000 and provided false employer identification numbers to contractors with whom he did business. In all, Stramaglia used more than $3.4 million from his businesses to purchase in others’ names over 20 luxury vehicles and at least four residences.
Stramaglia and Santamaria also paid day laborers in cash and failed to withhold or report payroll taxes. Santamaria also admitted to paying himself a weekly salary from the demolition company bank accounts, and paying personal expenses including food, lodging, clothing, gym memberships, and tuition for private school out of the business bank accounts, all in an effort to avoid paying personal income taxes.
District Judge Timothy Black stated that sentencing would be scheduled in 70 days. Both Stramaglia and Santamaria face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison on each count, as well as a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg thanked special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Trial Attorney Richard M. Rolwing of the Tax Division, who is prosecuting the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division’s enforcement efforts can be found on the division’s website.