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August 23, 2019Cart

Business

by Fairfield County Business Journal
by FCBJ

Chef Bruno DiFabio pleads guilty to evading $816K in taxes

Bruno DiFabio, who has maintained ownership interests in a number of pizzerias in Fairfield and Westchester counties, has waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to tax evasion.

Bruno DiFabio

According to court documents and statements made in court, the Ridgefield resident has had various ownership interests in several pizza restaurants in the area, including Pinocchio Pizza LLC, doing business as (dba) Pinocchio Pizza in New Canaan; Top Oven Restaurant Corp. dba as Pinocchio Pizza in Wilton; DiFabio Brothers Pizza Corp. dba  Amore Pizza in Scarsdale; Odell Pizza Inc. dba Amore Cucina & Bar in Stamford; Nepperhan Restaurants Group Inc. dba ReNapoli Pizza in Old Greenwich; and Homefield Restaurant Corp. dba Pinocchio Pizza in Pound Ridge. During the summer he opened Pizza Union Gastro-Kitchen & Bar in Newburgh.

DiFabio and others in the businesses engaged in a practice whereby cash was removed from the cash register and not deposited into the restaurant’s operating bank account. The businesses’ outside bookkeeper and accountant used the bank records to determine business gross receipts. By not depositing the cash into the business bank account, the funds were not reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

DiFabio also knew that certain employees had their wages paid in cash and that a certain number of the employees were paid either a portion or the entirety of their wages “off the books” – again resulting in the manipulation of net income reported and the underpayment of withholding taxes to the IRS.

As a result, the loss to the IRS in income taxes and employment taxes for the 2013 through 2015 tax years was $816,954.

DiFabio pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to file false income tax returns and payroll tax returns. He faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, a fine of up to approximately $1.6 million and full restitution to the IRS.

DiFabio was released on a $100,000 bond pending sentencing, which has yet to be scheduled.

On Sept. 24, DiFabio’s business partner in some of his restaurants, Steven Cioffi, pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and assisting in the filing of a false tax return. He is also awaiting sentencing.