Manchester drywaller sentenced on federal tax fraud charges

Paul Feely, The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester
·2 min read

Apr. 14—A Manchester man was sentenced in federal court Wednesday to 18 months in prison for employment tax fraud, officials said.

According to court documents, from 2011 to 2013 Walter Rodriguez assisted several drywall companies avoiding paying employment taxes by maintaining off-the-books payrolls.

Rodriguez — who owned and operated his own drywall business, Walter Rodriguez Drywall and Finish (WR Drywall) — found workers for the companies for various construction jobs. The companies then issued checks in the names of fake or fraudulent identities, then gave those checks to Rodriguez, who converted the checks to cash at local check-cashing businesses and paid the workers off the books.

In total, court documents show Rodriguez had a hand in paying out $1.7 million in unreported wages, resulting in $416,000 in lost employment taxes.

In addition to his prison term, U.S. District Judge Steven J. McAuliffe ordered Rodriguez to serve one year of supervised release and pay approximately $416,163 in restitution to the United States.

Rodriguez previously pleaded guilty on Jan. 12, 2021.

"The defendant committed a serious violation of federal law," said Acting U.S. Attorney John Farley in a statement. "The defendant's elaborate scheme generated a significant number of false documents, allowed individuals to work off-the-books, and resulted in over $400,000 in unpaid taxes. As this case shows, tax cheaters in New Hampshire will face significant consequences for their unlawful conduct."

"Under-the-table schemes like those perpetrated by the defendant are an affront to the hardworking businesses who play by the rules," said Ramsey E. Covington, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation's Boston Field Office, in a statement. "The terms handed down in today's sentencing will hopefully serve as a clear warning about the penalties that await those involved in this type of criminal activity."