Yonkers entrepreneur sentenced to prison for tax evasion

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A Yonkers contractor has been sentenced to four months in federal prison for tax evasion on $1.5 million in income he hid from the IRS for several years.

U.S. District Judge Nelson S. Román also ordered Mario G. Nunes to pay $352,328 in restitution to the government for taxes he should have paid from 2014 to 2019.

Nunes had pleaded guilty to tax evasion and six counts of filing false tax returns. He was sentenced on May 4, but the judgment was not entered into the public register until July 5.

Nunes, 60, was born in Portugal and emigrated to the United States in 1990, according to court records.

He moved to Yonkers and established himself as an independent masonry and concrete contractor around 1992 or 1993. In 2018, he became a naturalized citizen.

The IRS initially assessed $85,692 for unpaid taxes from 2006 through 2017, based on income it reported. But there was more. The government found he also hid income from his business, setting aside more than $1.8 million from 2012 to 2016, but declaring less than $237,000.

Nunes used several schemes to conceal the income. He asked customers to pay him cash, for example, or pay suppliers directly for supplies. He paid his personal expenses from his business accounts and deposited business checks into his personal account.

In 2018, he called the IRS and claimed he hadn’t worked since an accident in 2015, according to the criminal complaint, and was surviving on money borrowed from family and friends.

Non-binding federal sentencing guidelines called for 18 to 24 months in prison. The federal probation office recommended six months.

Nunes’ attorney, Paul D’Emilia, recommended no jail time, three years probation, a fine and community service.

“There is no excuse for Mr. Nunes’ conduct,” D’Emilia said in a letter to Román, “but we believe the court will find that his actions in this case are inconsistent with the rest of his life. .”

He portrayed Nunes as a good man who “always strived to do the right thing” and is humbled and embarrassed by his failures. He grew up in poverty in Portugal, never married, lives in a modest one-bedroom apartment and focuses on his community.

He created Fundación Galaxia Inc. in the Dominican Republic to provide toys, food and medicine to children and the elderly.

A prison sentence would be unreasonable, D’Emilia wrote, “given the life story of Mr. Nunes, his long history of good works, his stellar character and the need to be present in the life of his community and for the continued survival of his business.”

Nunes said he never intended to avoid taxes, in a letter to the judge, but found himself “struggling at the end of every project to make ends meet. I now realize that it was a combination of underpricing and poor management that left me broke at the end of these efforts. »

Assistant federal prosecutors Jeffrey C. Coffman and James F. McMahon recommended a sentence within the guidelines of 18 to 24 months to “send a message to potential tax evaders that a meaningful prison sentence is the likely consequence of such a criminal conduct”.

A minimum prison term, they said in a letter to Román, “would be perceived by the public as a slap on the wrist and would not sufficiently deter others who flout the tax laws.”

Nunes had taken the position that if he had filed the tax returns correctly, including all expenses, he should have owed little or no taxes.

Prosecutors scoffed at the claim. Nunes had received more than $1.8 million in documented receipts, but had also received cash receipts that the government was unable to identify. He paid his employees in cash but did not pay their social contributions.

Nunes’ tax evasion “was not a one-time mistake or fleeting lapse in judgment,” Coffman and McMahon said. “Rather, time and time again over the course of more than five years, Nunes has made a conscious and deliberate choice to defraud the US government.”


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