Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Joleen D. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in New England, today announced that MELISSA PEZZOLO, 66, of New Milford, waived her right to be indicted and pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to federal tax offenses.
According to court documents and statements made in court, for nearly 20 years, Pezzolo was employed as the office manager and bookkeeper for a nursery and landscaping services company in Bethel. Pezzolo was responsible for managing the company’s books and invoices, paying the company’s bills, and handling the company’s payroll and employment tax obligations. She also was responsible for coordinating with the company’s tax return preparer who prepared the yearly filed corporate tax returns.
Beginning in or before 2014 and continuing through 2018, Pezzolo willfully failed to file any employment tax returns (Forms 941) and failed to make any related payments of withholding taxes on behalf of the company. Nevertheless, she continued to distribute paychecks to employees that withheld employees’ income and FICA taxes. She accounted for the withholdings on the employees’ annual W-2 forms, which she continued to issue, though she did not provide the W-2 forms or pay the related withholding taxes to the IRS or the Social Security Administration. She also failed to pay the company’s own share of FICA taxes.
With respect to her own withholdings, Pezzolo neither withheld nor paid her withholding taxes to the IRS, nor issued herself any W-2 forms between approximately 2010 and 2018. She also failed to pay her own required income taxes.
In pleading guilty, Pezzolo further admitted that she stole thousands of dollars from her employer by giving herself raises that were not authorized and by paying personal expenses using the company’s corporate bank account and company credit card.
Pezzolo has agreed to make restitution of $1,329,314, which reflects $1,170,992 in unpaid company payroll taxes and $158,322 in unpaid personal income taxes for the 2014 through 2018 tax years.
Pezzolo pleaded guilty to one count of willful failure to collect or pay over tax, and one count of tax evasion of assessment. Each offense carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.
Pezzolo is released pending sentencing, which is not scheduled.
This investigation has been conducted by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elena L. Coronado and Christopher W. Schmeisser.