Owner of Little Caesars Pizza franchises charged with filing false tax returns from skimmed cash

BIRMINGHAM – Federal prosecutors on Thursday charged the owner and operator of dozens of pizza franchise restaurants in Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana for filing a false federal income tax return that did not include money he skimmed from his Little Caesars restaurants, federal authorities announced. 
The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged RAMON S. ARIAS, 64, of Mountain Brook, with one count of making a false tax return. In a plea agreement reached between Arias and the government, he agrees to plead guilty to the charge, pay $224,290 in restitution to the IRS, and to cooperate with the IRS Civil Division in filing accurate amended tax returns for 2010 through 2013.

Arias owned, controlled and operated 26 to 45 Little Caesars franchises in the three states from 2010 through 2013, according to the plea agreement. The stores were incorporated under various business names, with other individuals owning percentages of the businesses, but Arias was primarily responsible for running the businesses and managing the finances, the plea agreement states.

It says Arias operated a scheme to divert cash from the gross receipts of some of the businesses, primarily two to four of the restaurants in Alabama, during the four years. Arias used a certified public accountant to prepare his business and individual income tax returns, but did not provide the accountant with any information about the skimmed money, according to the plea agreement.

The amounts of skimmed cash under-reported on Arias’ individual returns for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 were $238,664, $265,413, $312,955 and $287,023, respectively, according to the plea agreement.

The maximum penalty for making a false tax return is three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
IRS-CI investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Patton Meadows is prosecuting.

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