Wilton restaurateur pleads guilty to filing false income tax returns

Bruno DiFabio
Bruno DiFabio

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut has reported that Wilton restaurateur Bruno DiFabio of Ridgefield pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to file false income tax returns and payroll tax returns in front of U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport on Oct. 25.

He faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, a fine of up to approximately $1.6 million, and full restitution to the IRS of $816,954.

According to the report, DiFabio, 49, engaged in a practice whereby cash was removed from the cash register and not deposited into the restaurant’s operating bank account.

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in New England, said that DiFabio waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty to the charge.

According to court documents and statements made in court, DiFabio has had various ownership interests in several pizza restaurants in Connecticut and in New York, including Pinocchio Pizza LLC, doing business as Pinocchio Pizza in New Canaan; Top Oven Restaurant Corp., doing business as Pinocchio Pizza in Wilton; DiFabio Brothers Pizza Corp., doing business as Amore Pizza in Scarsdale, N.Y.; Odell Pizza, Inc., doing business as Amore Cucina and Bar in Stamford; Nepperhan Restaurants Group, Inc., doing business as ReNapoli Pizza, in Old Greenwich, Conn.; and Homefield Restaurant Corp., doing business as Pinocchio Pizza in Pound Ridge, N.Y.

DiFabio also owns The Village Tavern and Romolo Pizza on Main Street in Ridgefield. Neither business was mentioned in the report.

According to the report, the businesses cited in the court documents had an “outside bookkeeper and accountant [use] the bank records to determine business gross receipts.”

“When cash was removed from the register and not deposited into the business bank account, the cash would not be reported to the Internal Revenue Service,” the report said. “DiFabio also knew that certain employees had their wages paid in cash, and that a certain number of the employees were paid either a portion or the entirety of their wages ‘off the books.’ By paying various expenses in cash and ‘off the books,’ DiFabio, his business partner and others facilitated the manipulation of net income reported to the IRS and the underpayment of withholding taxes to the IRS…

“As a result of the scheme, the loss to the IRS in income taxes and employment taxes for the 2013 through 2015 tax years was $816,954.”

DiFabio was released on a $100,000 bond pending sentencing, which has not been scheduled.

The U.S. Attorney Office’s report said that 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 on Sept. 24, 2018. He awaits 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.