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New Bedford Commercial Fisherman Pleads Guilty to Income Tax Evasion

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A crew member on commercial fishing vessels operating out of New Bedford pleaded guilty today to evading nearly $300,000 in federal income taxes.

Rodolfo Membreno, 49, of Fall River, pleaded guilty to one count of evading and defeating taxes before U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns. Judge Stearns scheduled sentencing for May 15, 2024. Membreno was indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2023.

From 2013 through 2021, Membreno earned more than $1.3 million working as a commercial fisherman. During the calendar years 2013 through 2019 Membreno failed to file federal income tax returns. He then filed a false tax return for 2020, before again failing to file a return for calendar year 2021. Membreno failed to pay any income taxes on his fishing income and took other measures to prevent the IRS from tracing his income or determining his tax liabilities, including routinely cashing his paychecks and using the cash to fund his personal lifestyle. Membreno’s scheme resulted in tax losses of approximately $293,118 to the IRS, not including penalties and interest.

The charge of tax evasion carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, and restitution to the IRS. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division; and Harry Chavis, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor A. Wild of the Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts and Trial Attorney Ezra Spiro and Acting Chief John Kane of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

About Michael Silvia

Served 20 years in the United States Air Force. Owner of New Bedford Guide.

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