Home Accountant The accountant takes a position in the region’s tax file

The accountant takes a position in the region’s tax file


Sean I. Mills

One of the accountants who prepared the corporate and personal income tax returns for Dippin Donuts and the Zourdos family spoke on Wednesday and said that she had filed the appropriate documents based on the financial information she received. provided by the family.

Heather O’Rourke told the jury that she never had any reason to check the personal bank accounts of John, Helen or Dimitrios Zourdos when filing their tax returns. She said she relied on the routine W2 tax form that everyone uses to file their taxes.

“We were told that all deposits go to business checking accounts,” O’Rourke said.

The Zourdos family “told us so. We do not have corporate clients who put money into their personal accounts.

The Zourdos family defense argues that O’Rourke should have been more proactive in reviewing the family’s bank accounts and calendar books.

John, his wife Helen and their son Dimitrios, from Rome, are on trial this week in federal court charged with embezzling around $ 1 million in cash sales of Dippin Donuts between 2013 and 2017 and never reporting this money to the IRS. Prosecutors accused the family of taking cash sales from the business and depositing the money into their personal bank accounts, then never informing their accountants or tax preparers of the deposits.

They are all charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, seven counts of tax evasion and seven counts of aiding and assisting in filing false corporate income tax returns, according to the department. American Justice, Taxation Division. They each face at least three to five years in federal prison if convicted of the charges against them.

Income tax returns

O’Rourke spoke on Wednesday afternoon and explained that she worked for accountant Vincent Gilroy for 30 years, helping with corporate tax work, tax returns, bookkeeping and more Again. O’Rourke said she and Gilroy did accounting work for the Zourdos family for 20 to 25 years, which ended about five or six years ago.

O’Rourke told the jury that she did not do any financial planning or asset management for the Zourdos family and that she did not have access to their personal bank accounts.

A routine was developed with the Zourdos family in which O’Rourke said she would stop at the Dippin Donuts on Erie Boulevard West every month or so to retrieve the company’s bank statements in order to track the sales of the company. business. She said she didn’t do it for every client, but Dippin was on his way to his accounting office in New Hartford.

O’Rourke said John or Helen would often be at the store to let her into the office to collect the company’s bank statements.

“It was a certain drawer that you opened” to retrieve the documents, said O’Rourke.

“Sometimes they were sometimes left on the chair already set up for me. I never opened other drawers because you don’t open other people’s drawers. Everything I needed was in this drawer.

O’Rourke said they were “quick in and out” visits. She testified that the Zourdos family told her that all of the company’s sales were deposited into the company’s bank accounts and that she was “never” informed that the company’s money was deposited. in personal bank accounts.

O’Rourke told the jury that there was no need to look at the cash receipts or sales books because “we had the gross sales from the bank statements.”

Using this information, O’Rourke said she would prepare drafts of corporate income tax returns and the drafts would be reviewed by her boss. Vincent Gilroy would also meet once a year with the Zourdos family to review their financial statements, she said. Gilroy was scheduled to testify Thursday.

“Copies of financial statements and corporate reports are always submitted to the client,” O’Rourke said. She said the Zourdos family signed an authorization form stating that they reviewed the tax returns and approved their electronic filing.

Regarding the filing of the family’s personal income tax returns, O’Rourke said she relied on their W2 forms for the wages they received from Dippin, as well as separate investment accounts. O’Rourke said the W2 forms were prepared by the payroll company that handled Dippin’s paychecks.

Regarding Dimitrios Zourdos, O’Rourke clarified that she never had any correspondence with him because he was not involved in the company’s bank accounts, to her knowledge. O’Rourke said she received the W2 from Dimitrios and used it to file her personal tax return.

Calendar books

According to pre-trial testimony, Dippin Donuts employees said the Zourdos family kept office calendars to track daily sales and daily deposits. According to the prosecution, those daily notes would never balance out and there was always a certain amount of money missing in the numbers.

O’Rourke testified on Wednesday that the Zourdos family never showed him these books or even talked about them.

“I should have known that,” O’Rourke said. “I have no idea what they were doing.”

In 2016, the Dippin Donuts store on Black River Boulevard was audited by the IRS. O’Rourke said the auditor was aware of the calendar books and it was O’Rourke’s job to collect them from Dippin Donuts and hand them over to the auditor.

Defense attorney David Garvin, who represents John and Helen Zourdos, asked O’Rourke why she never looked in the books when she mistook them for the auditor.

“I just picked up the book and brought it to the office for the auditor,” replied O’Rourke. “We just stacked everything in a box, that’s normally our way of doing things.”

She said her work on the tax return was already done and she had no reason to verify her work or review new documents. She said everything was just put together and handed to the auditor. The auditor was due to speak on Thursday.

Garvin also asked O’Rourke about Dippin Donuts’ status as a “C Corporation” and what that meant for taxation. She explained that a C corporation is taxed as a business and then the owner is also taxed on any money they make from the business.

Garvin suggested that it is therefore a legitimate tax strategy to “sweep” money from the business account to a personal account to avoid too much double taxation. O’Rourke agreed that this was a strategy, but clarified that when C companies typically do this, they give the money to owners through year-end bonuses, supplemented by book checks. on the W2 and imposed forms.

O’Rourke said she did not know of any customers who “sweep” money by making untaxed cash deposits to their personal bank accounts.

Luxury shopping

On Wednesday, two other witnesses told the jury about some expensive purchases made by the Zourdos family.

Jay FitzGerald, of Geneva Foreign & Sports, testified about the sale to John Zourdos of a 2001 Porsche, which he described as “a very nice car”.

FitzGerald said John paid $ 21,000 in cash out of the car’s total cost of $ 47,556.

Jay Lowenstein, of Henry Wilson Jewelers in Syracuse, testified how John and Dimitrios Zourdos came to see him to buy Rolex watches. Lowenstein said John paid $ 18,000 in cash to buy a rose gold and diamond Rolex watch for his wife, while Dimitrios paid $ 12,660 in credit through Citibank for a $ 15,660 gold Rolex.

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