Accountant Sent to Prison for Defrauding Homeowner

Allison Tussey —  November 10, 2014 — Leave a comment

Thomas Ragonese, 55, Trumbull, Connecticut, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny to three years of probation, the first six months of which Ragonese must spend in home confinement on electronic monitoring, for participating in a scheme to defraud a Bridgeport, Connecticut, residential property owner. He was also ordered to perform 60 hours of community service.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Anthony Testo and his business, ACT Builders, Inc., were contracted to serve as a property manager for an entity in Bridgeport that owned an apartment complex and several single and multi-family residences. Testo’s role as property manager included filling vacant rental units, setting rental amounts, collecting security deposits, collecting rent from tenants and depositing rental payments in the property owner’s bank account. Testo also was required to submit to the property owner a monthly “rent roll,” which was a spreadsheet showing the occupancy of the rental units, the rental amounts due and the rental payments collected from tenants. Ragonese provided accounting services to Testo and ACT Builders. At Testo’s instruction, Ragonese prepared the rent rolls.

From approximately January 2007 to August 2010, Testo and ACT Builders, with Ragonese’s assistance, defrauded the property owner by submitting fraudulent rent rolls that misrepresented that certain rental units were vacant with no rent due when, in fact, the apartments were occupied and rent had been collected. The rent rolls also misrepresented that the rent due and collected for certain rental units was lower than the amount that was actually collected. Testo deposited rental income that was due to the property owner into both his personal bank account and the ACT Builders bank account.

Through this scheme, and also by submitting fraudulent subcontractor invoices to the property owner, Testo defrauded the defrauded the property owner of at least $275,000.

For the 2007 through 2010 tax years, Ragonese prepared Testo’s federal tax returns, which failed to report the rental income that Testo kept for his own use and benefit. This resulted in a tax loss to the Internal Revenue Service of $71,795.

On July 17, 2014, Ragonese pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and assisting the preparation and filing of a false tax return.

On June 20, 2014, Testo pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of assisting in the preparation and filing of a false tax return. Testo also admitted that he failed to report his fraudulent income on his 2007 through 2010 personal federal income tax returns. In addition, Act Builders pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

On November 3, 2014, Testo was sentenced to five months in community confinement (halfway house), followed by three years of supervised release, the first six months of which must be served in home confinement. He was also ordered to pay an $18,000 fine, $275,000 in restitution to the victim, and $71,795, plus penalties and interest, to the IRS. ACT Builders was sentenced to five years of probation

The United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut announced the sentence.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Felice Duffy.

 

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Allison Tussey

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