Bethel landscaping employee pleads guilty to tax evasion
A New Milford woman admitted this week to not filing personal income taxes or for her employer, a Bethel nursery and landscaping services company, according to the US Attorney’s office.
Melissa Pezzolo, 66, pleaded guilty Tuesday before US District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to willful failure to collect or pay over tax and tax evasion of assessment, US Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery said in a news release.
Pezzolo has agreed to pay nearly $1.33 million in restitution, accounting for $1.17 million in unpaid company payroll taxes and more than $158,000 in unpaid personal income taxes for the 2014 through 2018 tax years, according to the US Attorney’s office.
She faces up to 10 years in prison for the offenses. Pezzolo is released pending her sentencing, which has not been scheduled, the US Attorney’s office said Wednesday.
In addition to not paying taxes, Pezzolo “further admitted that she stole thousands of dollars from her employer by giving herself raises that were not authorized and by paying personal expenses using the company’s corporate bank account and company credit card,” the US Attorney’s office noted .
Pezzolo worked as the office manager and bookkeeper for the company for nearly 20 years, according to the US Attorney’s office. In her role, she was responsible for managing the company’s books and invoices, paying the bills and handling the payroll and employment tax obligations. She was also tasked with coordinating with the company’s tax return preparer on annual tax returns.
From 2014 through 2018, the US Attorney’s office said Pezzolo “willfully failed to file any employment tax returns” and “failed to make any related payments of withholding taxes on behalf of the company.”
She continued to distribute paychecks to employees who withheld taxes. She also accounted for the withholdings on the employees’ annual W-2 forms. However, she did not provide these forms or pay the withholding taxes, to the Internal Revenue Service or the Social Security Administration, nor pay the company’s share of taxes, according to the US Attorney’s office.
Pezzolo did not withhold or pay her withholding taxes to the IRS and did not issue herself W-2 forms from 2010 to 2018. She also failed to pay her own income taxes, the US Attorney’s office said.
Liz Hardaway may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org