Accountant For New Canaan Eatery Pleads Guilty In Tax Case: Feds

Alfred Branch
·2 min read

NEW CANAAN, CT — A 58-year-old Dix Hills, New York, man — who prosecutors said worked as an accountant for Pinocchio Pizza in New Canaan and other Connecticut and New York eateries — waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty Monday in a federal tax case.

James G. Guerra pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Victor A. Bolden to one count of willful failure to collect and pay over withholding taxes, announced U.S. Attorney John H. Durham and Ramsey E. Covington, Acting Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in New England. Pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the court proceeding occurred via videoconference.

According to court documents and statements, Guerra worked as an accountant for Ridgefield resident Bruno DeFabio, owner of several pizza restaurants in Connecticut and New York, including:

  • Pinocchio Pizza in New Canaan

  • Pinocchio Pizza in Wilton

  • Amore Pizza in Scarsdale, New York

  • Amore Cucina and Bar in Stamford, Connecticut

  • ReNapoli Pizza, in Old Greenwich

  • Pinocchio Pizza in Pound Ridge, New York

"DiFabio and his businesses engaged in a practice whereby cash was removed from the cash registers and not deposited into the restaurants' operating bank accounts, and Guerra knew that DiFabio had a practice of paying his employees in cash," according to Durham. "Although Guerra was aware that DiFabio was failing to collect required withholding taxes from his employees and, in turn, not paying over these taxes to the IRS, Guerra reviewed and approved DiFabio’s quarterly tax returns that DiFabio subsequently signed and filed with the IRS."

The offense that Guerra pleaded guilty to carries a maximum prison term of five years. A date has not yet been set for when Guerra will be sentenced; he is currently free on bond.

DiFabio pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to file false income tax returns and payroll tax returns in October 2018. When he pleaded guilty, he agreed that the loss to the IRS in income taxes and employment taxes for the 2013 through 2015 tax years was $816,954.

In September 2018, 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.

Also in June 2019, Idalecia Lopes Santos, a bookkeeper who worked for DiFabio, pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion.

DiFabio, Cioffi and Santos await sentencing.

This investigation is being conducted by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher W. Schmeisser.

This article originally appeared on the New Canaan Patch