Sorry about the play on words, but Lucky Mata, 47, of West Palm Beach, and owner of Kodiak Construction and Management, Inc., was sentenced on Friday, February 22, 2008 to serve a total of ten years in prison on multiple charges relating to his evasion of federal payroll taxes.
Ten years in prison is nothing to sneeze at. Having been there, as best I recall, if one earns this dubious distinction – especially with that number of years – it won’t be spent in a minimum security facility. So “Lucky” won’t find himself so lucky when he enters a medium security federal prison.
So what’s the background? According to the news release from the US Attorney’s office:
Kodiak underpaid its federal payroll taxes by nearly $3,000,000 between 1994 and 2005, during which time it paid its workers nearly $18,000,000 in cash payments without any employer withholding.
Evidence at the trial showed that Mata paid cash wages to most of his workers in order to avoid federal payroll tax obligations. Check cashers posing as subcontractors helped him to perpetrate the scheme. Mata caused the check cashers to lie to banks about the final destination of the cash after it left the bank, and then caused multiple false federal payroll tax returns to be filed with the Internal Revenue Service. The total scheme involved more than $18,000,000 in Kodiak wages over a ten-year period.
According to the evidence, Mata caused fraudulent invoices to be presented to the grand jury that was investigating this matter. Kodiak paid cash to most of its construction workers, without any federal withholding taxes being deducted from the wages. In addition, the evidence showed that many of the workers were undocumented aliens.
Every choice has a consequence! How often I say this in the blogs I write or the presentations I make. As a white collar crime and ethics speaker, I know full well the effect of choices that one can make. Having made bad choices in my past and spent time in federal prison as a result, I know that you do reap what you sow. Likewise, I understand that good choices can yield outstanding consequences.
Unlucky for Lucky – he will be spending almost 20% of his life in federal prison. Perhaps during that stay, he’ll get a chance to explore whether the short term gain was worth the long term consequences.
Your comments welcome!