Greek-American shop owner uses Greek heritage as defence for tax fraud

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Emanuel Panousos aka Mike Panousos, a shop owner in Boston, USA, pleaded for leniency at his tax fraud sentencing at the US District Court because it “was simply his Greek way of doing business,” the Boston Herald reported.

Mr Panousos, 43, is the manager of Mike’s Famous Roast Beef and Pizza in Boston, USA.

During his sentencing, on November 5th, US District Judge Woodlock, rhetorically asked, “Is there a Greek family exception to income tax laws?”

Panousos reportedly “diverted cash receipts to himself and paid for his company’s supplies and portions of his employees’ wages with cash between 2013 and 2016, for an amount totaling approximately $1.9 million,” the Boston Herald reported, adding that “he pleaded guilty in May to two false tax return charges for avoiding $387,180 in taxes.”

His case included a mitigating letter from psychologist, Daniel Kriegman, which blamed Panousos’ behaviour on “his parents and brother, who were sentenced to probation last year for their own tax evasion scheme at their Peabody pizza restaurant,” the Boston Herald reported.

The letter wrote, “Did [Emanuel] know he was cheating on his taxes? Without question, but that was simply his Greek immigrant family’s way of doing business,” and citing a news article, wrote that the behaviour was “probably brought overseas from Greece, ‘a country where everyone knows a thousand ways around the rules.”

Judge Woodlock responded that the “inappropriate conclusions undermined the value of his letter,” the Boston Herald reported.

“I did not consider stereotypes of Greek families in fashioning [a] sentence,” the judge said.

Woodlock issued a lower end sentence of 21 to 27 month prosecutor recommendation, and ordered Panousos to pay a $7500 fine as well as the amount of owed taxes.

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