Passaic County man charged in tax evasion and kickback scheme


Date: June 17, 2021


Newark, NJ — A Passaic County, New Jersey, man was arrested today for his role in a kickback tax evasion scheme related to his role as plan administrator of two union-related employee benefit plans, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Jose Santa Maria, aka "Joe," of North Haledon, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with five counts of tax evasion, one count of paying kickbacks related to an employee benefit plan, and one count of making false statements in relation to an employee benefit plan. He is scheduled to appear by videoconference this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From at least 2013, Santa Maria served as the plan administrator, through Company-1, for a health fund and a training fund related to a labor union. At the same time, Santa Maria was employed by Individual-1, who served as counsel for the two union funds. The president of Company-1 was related to Individual-1. From 2013 through 2019, Santa Maria derived approximately $750,000 in income from Company-1, which was paid by the two union funds. He did not report any of the income to the IRS or pay the associated income taxes. Santa Maria also unlawfully paid at least $50,000 to Individual-1, through payments from Company-1 to Company-2, which was owned by Individual-1. These unlawful payments were designed to maintain Santa Maria's position as the plan administrator to the funds and vice president of Company -1. Company-1 also received insurance commissions, which Santa Maria caused to not be reported, as required, on filings with the IRS and Department of Labor, for the union health fund.

The counts of tax evasion each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The count of paying kickbacks related to an employee benefit plan carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The count of making false statements related to an employee benefit plan carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez; investigators of the Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, under the direction of Regional Director of the New York Regional Office Thomas Licetti; and police investigators of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, under the direction of Acting Inspector General Michael Farbiarz, with the investigation with the investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel V. Grady O'Malley and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kendall Randolph of the U.S. Attorney's Office's Organized Crime and Gangs Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.