Former Real Estate Developer Locked Up, Fined $1.5M For Tax Evasion
Former Bayport resident and Minnesota real estate developer Bartolomea J. Montanari, 57, was sentenced to 72 months in prison for one count each of tax evasion, mail and wire fraud.
According to a court filing from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Montanari was also fined $1.5 million for the taxes, interest and penalties owed and another $100,000 in mandatory restitution.
From 2009 to January 2012, Montanari purposefully evaded payment of employment and excise taxes he owed for his three businesses: St. Croix Development, Emlyn Coal Processing, and Montie’s Resources. Investigators found he had avoided paying more than $700,000 in federal taxes.
Among methods Montanari used to avoid tax payments was a $1.1 million transfer of funds from his businesses to a bank account in the name of Bella Luca Properties LLC. When federal authorities inquired about the Bella Luca bank account in December 2009, Montanari denied its existence, however evidence found that Montanari was using the bank account to receive monthly compensation of $50,000 for his own personal expenses.
Aside from filing fraudulent financial statements to the IRS, he also lied about the sale price of a Caterpillar bulldozer he claimed to need for one of his companies. Montanari falsified a check that was $100,000 more than the actual purchase price of the dozer, using the extra money to put a down payment on a $1.4 million house in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Judge Montgomery, who sentenced Montanari on Wednesday, said in the filing that this “was not a single error of judgment” and that he had “many chances” to correct his instances of money theft instead of choosing to finance an “incredibly flamboyant lifestyle.”
“Montanari not only evaded payment of taxes and defrauded his business partner, but he repeatedly lied to IRS investigators, pleading poor while living an extravagant lifestyle,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Melinda Williams in a statement. She added that this sentence “sends a strong message to those who would try to cheat the government that this behavior will not be tolerated.”