Couple charged with conspiring to evade personal and employment taxes

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An Upper Freehold Township couple was arrested on March 23 by federal agents on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States by evading the payment of personal and employment taxes, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Tito Viteri, 39, and Maria Yepez, 38, are charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS of taxes from 2008 through 2016. Viteri and Yepez made their initial appearances on March 23 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lois H. Goodman in Trenton federal court and were released on $300,000 each unsecured bonds, according to the U.S. Attorney.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, since 2002, Viteri was the owner and operator of numerous commercial trucking companies that performed delivery services, all of but one of which operated in New Jersey. Yepez was the nominal owner of three of the companies.

Viteri and Yepez allegedly conspired to evade paying personal and business-related taxes by engaging in the following acts: “pyramiding” companies and using nominees as the purported owners of several of the companies in order to shield business assets while incurring employment tax liabilities; failing to file timely and accurate quarterly federal tax returns by falsely categorizing employees as independent contractors, for whom employment taxes did not have to be paid; receiving unreported kickback income from an employee; and concealing personal income and assets by using nominees and depositing money into their child’s bank account.

In 2008, an IRS audit determined Viteri allegedly owed approximately $785,000 in unpaid taxes for one of his companies, and he himself allegedly owed approximately $315,000 in unpaid personal taxes.

Although Viteri began making payments to the IRS in August 2011, he stopped making those payments in December 2013, claiming he was not “bringing enough money home.” Despite his claims, at about the same time (February 2013 to February 2016), Viteri and Yepez made approximately $111,000 in rental payments (approximately $3,000 per month) for a property in Chesterfield, Burlington County, where they lived.

Although Viteri and Yepez still had substantial outstanding tax liabilities, in 2016, Viteri and Yepez purchased a home in the Cream Ridge section of Upper Freehold Township for $929,653. To conceal the purchase of the home from the IRS, Viteri and Yepez purchased the home in the name of Viteri’s mother.

As of March 2018, Viteri owed approximately $1.3 million in personal income taxes, and Viteri and Yepez owed an additional approximate $1.3 million in unpaid business-related taxes.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a statutory maximum fine equal to the greatest of: $250,000; twice the gross amount of any pecuniary gain that any persons derived from the offense; or twice the gross amount of any pecuniary loss sustained by any victims.