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Former Giovanni’s owner pleads guilty to tax fraud

BOSTON — Steve Konis, the former owner of Giovanni’s Roast Beef & Pizza in Saugus, pleaded guilty to tax fraud Wednesday morning.

Konis, 70, was in U.S. district court when he pleaded guilty to failing to report $800,000 in corporate and personal income to the IRS, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling’s office. His charges included two counts of aiding and assisting in filing false corporate tax returns.

From 2012 through October 2016, Konis, who was the sole owner, underreported the business’ gross receipts in order to reduce the federal income taxes owed by him and Giovanni’s, said Lelling’s office. He diverted some of the restaurant’s cash receipts for his own benefit, paying for some supplies with cash, and paying a portion of his employees’ wages in cash.

Konis also failed to report all of the pizza shop’s business expenses in order to make the false receipts he reported appear more realistic and, as a result, he failed to report on cash receipts totaling approximately $800,000 and cash expenses of $312,000 on tax returns.

Konis avoided paying corporate and personal taxes totaling $178,169 from 2012 to 2015, Lelling’s office reported.

The charge of aiding and assisting the filing of false tax returns provides for a sentence of no greater than three years in prison, one year of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. Balthazard of Lelling’s Securities and Financial Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case and attorney Paul Prew, of DiMento & Sullivan, is representing Konis.

Prew did not return calls seeking comment.

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