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Owners of Villa Amalfi restaurant in Cliffside Park admit tax fraud

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: The owners of Villa Amalfi restaurant in Cliffside Park pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark yesterday to filing false tax returns.

Nicola Esposito, 59, of Franklin Lakes, pleaded guilty to a single count of filing a false tax return for 2006, while his 62-year-old brother, Giovanni Esposito of Mahwah, admitted doing so for 2007. Both are scheduled for sentencing Sept. 3.

For sentencing purposes, the government said, the judge will take into account that Nicola admitted short-changing the government by $166,967.20, while his brother caused a tax loss of $116,534.

“Today’s guilty pleas plea should serve as a reminder to the taxpaying public that IRS- Criminal Investigation is diligent when it comes to enforcing the laws directed at those who attempt to defraud our nation’s tax system,” said Jonathan D. Larsen, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation Newark Field Office.

The Espositos opened the restaurant with a third brother, Angelo, in 1979, after emigrating to the U.S. earlier that decade and launching a popular pizzeria in Leonia.

For the 2007 calendar year, the IRS said, Nicola Esposito under-reported his income from the Palisade Avenue restaurant by $71,032.28. He also under-reported Villa Amalfi income on his 2005, 2006 and 2008 individual income tax returns and failed to properly report cash payroll from Villa Amalfi for the years 2005 through 2008, the government said.

Giovanni Esposito failed to report all of his income for 2005, 2007 and 2008, according to the IRS.

The investigation was conducted by the IRS-Criminal Investigation Newark Field Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Handling the case for the government is Assistant U.S. Attorney David Eskew.

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