BOSTON – Emanuel Panousos aka Mike Panousos, 43, the manager of Mike’s Famous Roast Beef and Pizza in North Reading, MA, asked for leniency at his sentencing for tax fraud on November 5 in U.S. District Court, but Senior Judge Douglas Woodlock disdained Panousos’ defense that it “was ‘simply his Greek’ way of doing business,” the Boston Herald reported.
“Is there a Greek family exception to income tax laws?” Judge Woodlock asked rhetorically, the Herald reported.
Panousos “diverted cash receipts to himself and paid for his company’s supplies and portions of his employees’ wages with cash between 2013 and 2016, for an amount totaling approximately $1.9 million,” the Herald reported, adding that “he pleaded guilty in May to two false tax return charges for avoiding $387,180 in taxes.”
A letter from psychologist Daniel Kriegman was included with the sentencing memorandum that Panousos’ lawyer Richard Chambers submitted to the judge requesting five years’ probation for his client instead of the 21-27 months jail time recommended by the prosecutor. The letter blamed Panousos’ behavior on “his parents and brother, who were sentenced to probation last year for their own tax evasion scheme at their Peabody pizza restaurant,” the Herald reported.
Kriegman wrote, “Did [Emanuel] know he was cheating on his taxes? Without question, but that was simply his Greek immigrant family’s way of doing business,” and citing a news article, wrote that the behavior was “probably brought overseas from Greece, ‘a country where everyone knows a thousand ways around the rules,’” the Herald reported.
“Woodlock said the letter’s inappropriate conclusions undermined the value of his letter, which also addressed Panousos’ drug use and mental health,” the Herald reported.
“I did not consider stereotypes of Greek families in fashioning [a] sentence,” Woodlock said.
Panousos told the judge, “I really need the court’s mercy today,” the Herald reported.
“Woodlock issued the sentence at the low end of a prosecutor’s 21- to 27-month recommendation, and also ordered Panousos pay a $7,500 fine and restitution in the amount of owed taxes,” the Herald reported.