Owner Of Lake Norman Restaurant Pleads Guilty To Tax Fraud
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Peter Gjuraj, 49, of Mooresville N.C., appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer today and pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
U.S. Attorney Rose is joined in making today’s announcement by Thomas J. Holloman III, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
“Gjuraj reaped all the benefits of owning a profitable restaurant on the shores of Lake Norman, but did not want to pay taxes owed from operating his successful business. Instead, he used the extra income to fund homes, cars, and to travel. To those tax cheats who think they can get away without paying taxes owed, you will be investigated and you will be held accountable for your actions,” said U.S. Attorney Rose.
“Today’s plea of Peter Gjuraj’s is a reminder that any attempt to evade tax by hiding income and filing false returns is a theft from the American public. It is a felony offense that carries severe consequences,” said Special Agent in Charge Holloman. “The overarching principle of IRS’s enforcement strategy is simply this: We protect the integrity of the tax system by ensuring everyone pays the right amount of tax.”
According to filed documents and today’s court proceedings, from 2012 to the present, Gjuraj was a resident of Mooresville, N.C. and the owner and operator of Blue Parrot, a restaurant in Lake Norman, N.C. Gjuraj served as the bookkeeper for Blue Parrot, which obtained the majority of its income from the restaurant and from sale of gasoline to boaters.
According to filed documents and today’s court proceedings, for years 2012 through 2014, Blue Parrot earned additional gross receipts totaling approximately $2,793,873.00 that Gjuraj failed to report on his individual income tax returns filed with the IRS. As a result of the unreported gross receipts, Gjuraj had additional taxable income substantially in excess of that reported on his tax years 2012 through 2014. The additional federal tax due on this unreported income was a total of $319,974.92 based on additional tax due of $59,576.96, $96,866.96, and $163,531.00 for years 2012 through 2014, respectively.
According to filed documents and today’s court proceedings, as a result of the unreported gross receipts, Gjuraj fraudulently claimed various credits against taxes. For example, in 2012 and 2013, Gjuraj fraudulently claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). During the relevant time period, Gjuarj structured cash withdrawals to avoid the filing of currency transaction reports. For example, between July 8, 2013 and September 27, 2013, Gjuraj made approximately fifteen cash withdrawals from a bank account of amounts between $9,000 and $9,900, totaling approximately $141,850.
According to filed documents and today’s plea hearing, Gjuraj’s expenditures for years 2012 through 2014 were far in excess of his reported income. Gjuraj used business funds to purchase, among other things: two houses for $375,000; cars worth approximately $80,000; and additional personal expenditures including travel and home improvements.
Court documents show that Gjuraj failed to file a timely tax return with the IRS for 2015, despite earning approximately $631,666 in income. As a result of his unreported gross receipts, Gjuraj has an additional tax due and owing of approximately $217,015.05 for tax year 2015.
Gjuraj was released on bond after his plea hearing. The tax evasion charge carries a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine. As part of his plea agreement, Gjuraj has agreed to pay restitution of $536,989.97 to the IRS. As sentencing date for the defendant has not been set.
The investigation was led by IRS-CI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenny G. Sugar, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, is prosecuting the case.