Bloomberg News

Referees Accused of Identity Theft Conspiracy to Evade Taxes

September 15, 2011

(Updates with alleged false filings in seventh paragraph.)

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Former basketball referees at New York’s Chelsea Piers sports complex were charged with using stolen identities, including names of players on a youth sports team, to evade taxes.

Referees at Chelsea Piers on Manhattan’s West Side are paid about $40 per game and the organization is required to report to the Internal Revenue Service any referee’s annual payments of more than $600, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in an e-mailed statement.

Three former referees and a program manager were charged with providing Chelsea Piers false tax forms that used identities of players from a youth baseball team and names from a state compensation board and a local Chamber of Commerce to ensure that the income reported in their own names didn’t exceed $600 a year, according to the statement.

When Chelsea Piers issued checks payable to the stolen names, a former referee and his co-conspirators cashed or deposited them with fraudulent endorsements, according to the statement.

Peter Iulo, 53, a former referee from Brooklyn, and 44- year-old James Murray of Yonkers, who oversaw the basketball program, were charged today with conspiracy to evade taxes and conspiracy to commit identity theft, according to the statement.

Gerard Fahy, 57, of Yonkers, and Robert Spence, 57, of Bayside, pleaded guilty yesterday to their participation in the scheme, according to Bharara. Iulo, Fahy and Spence were also charged with tax evasion, the U.S. Attorney said.

$10,000 Earnings

In the statement Bharara cited the example of Spence, who Bharara claims earned more than $10,000 in 2004 for officiating games at Chelsea Piers, though records from the complex and the Internal Revenue Service show he only received $608.

The defendants face as many as 15 years in prison, according to the statement.

Murray is “extremely distressed that he has been charged,” his lawyer, Marjorie Peerce, said in an interview.

“He has devoted his life to basketball, most importantly coaching children and developing their love for the game,” she said. “He will continue to do so while he confronts these issues in court.”

Pat Pileggi, a lawyer representing Iulo, Robert LaRusso, a lawyer representing Spence, and Mike Romano, an attorney for Fahy, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment after regular business hours.

The case is U.S. v. Fahy, 11-cr-00790, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Foley Square).

--Editors: Peter Blumberg, Fred Strasser

To contact the reporter on this story: Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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