Maryland restaurant owner pleads guilty to employment and other tax crimes


Did not pay at least $2.8 million in withholdings owed to the IRS

Date: June 22, 2023


A Maryland restaurant owner pleaded guilty today to willful failure to account for and pay over employment taxes and to filing a false personal tax return.

According to court documents and statements made in court, John H. Worthington of Owings Mills, Maryland, owned and operated The Grill at Harryman House restaurant since 1995. As part of managing the restaurant, Worthington issued Forms W-2 to his employees and withheld federal income and Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes from their wages. However, from 2010 through 2021, Worthington did not file with the IRS the required Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Returns (Forms 941) reporting these employment taxes and did not pay the withholdings over to the IRS. In total, Worthington did not report or pay approximately $2,813,348.94 in employment taxes due and owing to the IRS.

Instead of meeting his tax obligations, Worthington used funds from his business to pay other creditors and for a variety of personal expenses, including golf club membership dues, season tickets to the Baltimore Orioles, international vacations, and salaries for himself and his wife.

Additionally, Worthington filed a joint 2016 personal tax return (Form 1040) that falsely claimed $24,207 in federal income tax withholdings from his own wages from the restaurant, which he knew had not been paid to the IRS. This resulted in a $9,096 refund to which he was not entitled. Had Worthington accurately reported $0 in withholdings for that year, he would have owed $15,111.

Worthington also failed to timely file his personal income taxes for 2017 through 2021, despite having received wages and compensation from the restaurant. He also failed to timely file corporate tax returns for 2016 through 2021, even though the corporation was active and generated gross receipts or sales of more than $15 million during that time frame.

Worthington faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for willfully failing to account for and pay over the employment taxes and three years in prison for filing a false tax return. He also faces a period of supervised release, monetary penalties, and restitution. Judge Julie R. Rubin will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department's Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron for the District of Maryland made the announcement.

IRS-Criminal Investigation is investigating the case.

Assistant Chief Jorge Almonte and Trial Attorney Matthew L. Cofer of the Tax Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean R. Delaney of the District of Maryland are prosecuting the case.