The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 4, 2013

Tax dodger to serve 6 months

EBENSBURG — A Somerset County man was sentenced Monday to six months in prison followed by three years on probation for dodging more than $120,000 in federal income taxes over a three-year period.

“There’s no words for me to describe how sorry I am about this,” a teary-eyed Leonardus A. Otto, 62, of Fort Hill, told U.S. District Judge Kim Gibson. “I’m so sorry.”

Otto’s attorney, Wayne DeLuca, told the court his client is a moral, dedicated family man who made several mistakes by “fudging” numbers on three consecutive years of tax returns beginning in 2005.

DeLuca said Otto did so for family “financial security,” noting he provides for a wife, stepdaughter and two grandchildren through his family’s sales business.

He said Otto did not live an extravagant life.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney John Valkovci disagreed, saying Otto lives in a 5,000-square-foot multistory home surrounded by 66 acres of land.

Otto was able to pay off money owed to the IRS, which totaled more than $260,000 including fines, partly by timbering his land and selling $140,000 worth of silver and gold coins, Valcovci said.

Otto covered his tracks

with layers of false books and other records, the prosecutor said.

“Let’s call it what it is: He lied, stole and cheated many times,” Valkovci said.

“He wanted money. Easy money.”

Gibson said Otto’s sentence is on the lower end of the recommended range, which suggested 12 to 18 months in

prison.

But, while noting the defendant had no prior record, the judge said six months in prison would allow Otto to think about what he’d done while still having an opportunity to return to his business this year and provide for his family again.

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