What’s $7 Million Among Freinds?

Arthur Weiss had a successful business running various professional employer organizations (PEOs). For a fee, his business would pay employees, remit taxes to the IRS and states, file tax returns, and provide workers compensation insurance. It turns out his fee was slightly larger than advertised.

Mr. Weiss did take in all the money, and he did pay employees. It was was the remitting of payroll taxes to the government that he didn’t like to do. Instead, he lived the good life enjoying jewelry, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Porsches. The amount of payroll taxes not remitted to just the IRS was over $4 million.

But that’s not all! The workers compensation premiums also lined Mr. Weiss’ pockets, so employees who got hurt weren’t covered (nor were employers).

But there’s more! Mr. Weiss decided to commit insurance fraud. He reported four pieces of jewelry worth $177,480 lost or stolen. They were found during a search of his former home. Oops….

Like a bad informercial, there’s yet even one more crime: bank fraud. Mr. Weiss decided to get some loans. Instead of showing the tax returns he submitted to the IRS, he made up new returns which, of course, showed more income than he reported.

Sooner or later this fraud was bound to be discovered. And it was, with Mr. Weiss indicted last June. He pleaded guilty in October. He was sentenced last week to more than 15 years at ClubFed. He also must make restitution of $7 million to his victims. Given that bankruptcy fraud was among the crimes he was accused of, it’s likely restitution will be a long time in coming.

This brings up the key point of this case: If you use an outside payroll company, you must make sure they remit your payroll taxes. For the IRS, there’s an easy way to do this. Simply enroll in EFTPS, and you can verify that the payroll deposits are being made. “Trust but verify” is a good motto when dealing with payroll. Why is this important? Because paying payroll taxes is bad enough the first time; to have to pay them twice is very bad. Yet if your payroll company does what Mr. Weiss did (abscond with the payroll deposits), that’s what will happen to you. A one-time registration followed by periodic checking up which takes just a few seconds can prevent this.

Note that this is not doable for a PEO. Please look at my new post on PEOs.

I’m sure many of Mr. Weiss’s clients wish they had done this.

2 Responses to “What’s $7 Million Among Freinds?”

  1. Ann-Margaret says:

    Russ, wouldnt it be hard to double check a PEO since they usually are using their own Federal ID#’s (therefore you cant verify)? I would think that they couldnt come back on the client since they hired a PEO and not a payroll company where their own ID#’s are used.

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