West Mifflin businessman avoids jail on tax evasion
A West Mifflin businessman on Tuesday avoided a jail sentence as punishment for his role in a scheme to underpay his taxes.
Frank Veltri, 59, pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy and tax evasion. He and his partner, John R. Miller, 59, of South Park own or collect license fees from about 20 Italian Village Pizza restaurants.
U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond sentenced Veltri to four years of probation with the first year on home confinement, the same sentence he gave Miller in January. He fined Veltri $60,000, $15,000 more than Miller, because Veltri had a more active role and kept more money in the cash-skimming scheme.
The judge ordered Veltri to perform 200 hours of community service, which wasn’t part of Miller’s sentence.
Veltri underpaid by about $187,000. Miller underpaid by about $93,000, court records show.
Veltri has already paid the Internal Revenue Service the taxes he owed plus penalties and interest, said his lawyer, Stephen Stallings.
Stallings said his client is an otherwise law-abiding citizen who goes out of his way to help others. Veltri has come to realize the seriousness of his crime and has become “hyper-compliant” on tax laws as a result, Stallings said.
“I didn’t recognize the magnitude of this, growing up,” Veltri told the judge. “I do now and it’s never going to happen again.”
The crime was puzzling because Veltri had enough money to pay all the taxes and penalties and wasn’t living beyond his means, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Kaufman.
The government asked the judge to sentence Veltri to 12 to 18 months in prison to deter other owners of predominately cash businesses from under-reporting their income, Kaufman said.
Diamond said the financial hit plus the damage to Veltri’s reputation and the embarrassment to his family will do that.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.