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Press Release

Golf Resort CEO Pleads Guilty to Fraud and Tax Evasion Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH – A resident of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania has pleaded guilty in federal court in Pittsburgh on charges of wire fraud and income tax evasion, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced today.

Rocco Panucci, 53, of Greensburg, PA, pleaded guilty to two counts before United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.

According to the information presented to the court, the victim in this case is Chestnut Ridge Golf, L.P. ("Chestnut"), 132 Pine Ridge Road, Blairsville, Pennsylvania, 15717, a golf and resort conference center. In September 2007, Chestnut retained the defendant for an annual salary of $100,000, plus approximately $21,000 of benefits, to function as the chief executive and finance officer. Panucci was responsible for the day-to-day operations until he was dismissed on December 17, 2012, by reason of the conduct these charges are based upon. Panucci used his fiduciary position to cause Chestnut to incur a loss of approximately $354,072 to benefit himself and his family. For example, $20,740.92 of Chestnut monies were diverted for college tuition for Panucci’s children, and $139,183.62 was diverted for personal travel, leisure, dining and entertainment. Panucci directed that an American Express credit card in the name of Chestnut be sent to his home address so that none of the itemized statements were seen by anyone at Chestnut. When it was time to pay the American Express charges, Panucci provided the Chestnut in-house bookkeeper his handwritten lists of what appeared to be legitimate expenditures, which in truth were fabrications to cover what Panucci had charged on the card for personal items.

Judge Schwab scheduled the sentencing for April 4, 2018. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not more than 40 years in prison, a fine of $1,250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Nelson P. Cohen is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations conducted the investigation leading to the information in this case.

Updated November 29, 2017