Tax Cheat Gets One-Year Imprisonment

district courtFor failure to file income tax returns, supply information and pay required taxes for 3 years, a highly paid consultant of the A.B. Won Pat International Airport was sentenced to 1 year jail time, pay a fine amounting to $22,500, and another $343,950.00 in restitution.

Francisco Roberto Santos, on April 14 was charged with 5 counts of willful failure to file returns, supply information, and pay required tax. The information filed by the Attorney General’s Office in behalf of the Government of Guam states that on 2008, Santos had a gross income of $247,0778.85. On 2009, Santos had a gross income of $254,238.54. His income for 2010 on the hand was $251,967.86; on 2011 was $249,600; and on 2012 was another $249,600. In all instances, Santos did not file for tax returns and he failed to pay taxes.

On July 9, Santos entered a guilty plea to counts III, IV, and V (years 2010, 2011, and 2012 respectively). He said his gross income for 2010 was $232,622; for 2011 was $230,137; and for 2012 was $229, 682. As such, for each count, he was facing a one-year imprisonment, fine of $100,000 (maximum), $25 mandatory special assessment fee, and one year supervised release. He also agreed to pay restitution of $343,950.00

Before the sentencing, high profile members of the community including two senators gave their support to Santos appealing that he was remorseful of his crime, and that the court should be lenient on him. Some even suggested community service in place of imprisonment.

Prosecutor Joseph McDonald in his Sentencing memo reiterated the 3-year imprisonment. He said that Santos’ tax crimes spanned 19 years. “From 1994 to 2012, Defendant willfully failed to file his income tax returns.” “Defendant was first investigated in 2003 for failing to file returns for the years prior. When questioned, it was apparent that his failure was willful, in violation of a known legal duty. Defendant at that time made representations to DRT agent that he would file his taxes, alluding to his hiring a CPA for assistance, and asked that DRT afford an exception and provide business license to him so that he could file and pay his GRTs. However, Defendant failed to abide by his own representations. He never followed through with his CPA to file returns and never filed nor paid GRTs. In 2013, DRT tax agents questioned Defendant again. It was clear that Defendant took no action to remedy his own failures. He explained that he was too busy for the last 19 years to file his tax returns and that it was a burden on him.

“The Defendant had the use and enjoyment of his money while the Government did not. While many low bracket taxpayers paid then waited months for their refunds, Defendant had full use and enjoyment of his money.

“In a time when the Government is fiscally tight, his crimes had significant impact, and other scofflaws’ tax crimes have, too.

“Almost every islander is directly affected by the Guam Territorial Income tax Law. Congress recognized this and demands the highest mens rea found in the law before a citizen can be convicted of a tax crime: willfulness, that is, the intentional violation of a known legal duty. Unlike any other crime, even murder, ignorance of the law is an excuse. Tax crimes, therefore, involve a deliberate flouting of the law and obligations of citizenship.

“It is crucial … that taxpayers believe that everyone is paying their fair share; they must perceive the system to be fair and scofflaws must be seen to be punished. Meaningful sentences in criminal tax cases are necessary to ensure the integrity of the tax system. This offence should be seen for what it is: a serious financial crime with a very large monetary loss.”

He further added in his 56-page Memo that a 3-year incarceration, combined with a criminal fine and restitution, will send the message that cheating on your taxes is simply not worth the risk.”

But the court decided to be lenient and gave him a 1-year imprisonment instead./The Junction News Team