O.C. Business Owner Faces Tax Evasion Charge Related to Nearly $30 Million Owed to IRS on Payroll Taxes Withheld from Employees
SANTA ANA, California – An Orange County business owner is named in a federal grand jury indictment unsealed today that charges him with tax evasion for failing to pay to the Internal Revenue Service nearly $30 million in payroll taxes, penalties and interest related to money that had been withheld from the salaries of employees of his various temporary worker companies.
Luis E. Perez – who has maintained residences in Anaheim Hills, Yorba Linda and Dove Canyon – is charged with one felony count of tax evasion in an indictment returned by a grand jury on August 28.
Perez’s companies – which include Checkmates Staffing Inc.; Staffaide Inc.; BaronHR, LLC; and Fortress Holding Group, LLC – were required to withhold taxes from employee wages and to pay the withheld amounts to the IRS on a periodic basis. These withheld taxes, sometimes known as “trust fund taxes,” include income taxes and Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare.
The indictment alleges that for the tax years 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010, Perez’s companies failed to pay the IRS the payroll taxes, including trust fund taxes that Perez’s companies withheld from employees’ paychecks. Beginning in June 2007, the IRS attempted to collect Perez’s outstanding tax liability, including penalties and interest. By February 2017, the outstanding balance had grown to $29,593,378, which included the unpaid taxes, interest and the “Trust Fund Recovery Penalty.”
The indictment alleges that Perez attempted to thwart the IRS’s collection efforts by purchasing luxury items – including numerous cars and a boat – and concealing his ownership by placing the titles of these items in the names of his businesses and other individuals. Those luxury items included a 2005 Ferrari 360 Spider F, a 2007 Rolls Royce Phantom, a Duffy D 22 Bay Island boat, a 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS, a 2015 Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and a 2014 Lamborghini Aventador.
As part of his efforts to impede the IRS, Perez allegedly made false statements to IRS revenue officers during interviews and failed to include material information in documents submitted to the IRS. For example, Perez falsely claimed that he received a salary of only $1,000 per week from BaronHR and he did not receive any other funds from the company, according to the indictment.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
Perez is expected to be arraigned on this indictment later this month.
If convicted, Perez would face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.
This matter is being investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brett A. Sagel of the Santa Ana Branch Office.