Former National Fish and Seafood President Sentenced for Tax Fraud
BOSTON – The founder and former president of National Fish and Seafood (National Fish), a major seafood processing company in Gloucester, was sentenced today for failing to pay taxes on approximately $2.9 million in income he earned from 2006 to 2013—money which the defendant agreed he fraudulently diverted from National Fish.
Jack A. Ventola, 71, of Ipswich, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to two years in prison and one year of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $75,000 fine and restitution of $1,073,470 to the Internal Revenue Service. In December 2017, Ventola pleaded guilty to seven counts of making and subscribing a false tax return.
Ventola was a 40 percent owner of National Fish, a major seafood processor he founded in Gloucester that employed the services of a temporary labor company, Continental Labor Team Inc. (Continental), which Ventola also controlled. Together with his co-conspirators—two National Fish executives and the company’s accountant—Ventola channeled more than $5 million from National Fish, through Continental, and into Ventola’s personal bank accounts, tax free. To do so, one of the co-conspirators prepared fraudulent invoices for work supposedly done for Continental by IFS, a shell company. Ventola and his co-conspirators used the fake IFS invoices to obtain payments from Continental, which they deposited into Ventola’s personal bank accounts. During the later years of the scheme, the money was directed from Continental into an account Ventola controlled in the name of yet another shell company, Nordic Investments. From the various accounts, Ventola paid personal expenses and also wrote checks to his co-conspirators, or to shell companies they controlled.
In addition to this income, Ventola received regular kickback payments from a shrimp repackaging company in Texas that performed services for National Fish. Between 2008 and 2014, Ventola caused those payments, which exceeded $400,000, to be deposited into bank accounts he controlled, but he did not report that income on his tax returns.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen E. Frank, Chief of Lelling’s Economic Crimes Unit, and Brian A. Pérez-Daple, of Lelling’s Criminal Division, prosecuted the case.