Posted on January 2, 2014 at 7:52 PM
Thursday, Jan 2 at 8:01 PM
Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: email@example.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl
MANDEVILLE - Opening Cuts Plus salons in Mandeville and Covington almost 15 years ago was a dream for Donna Waguespack Ramon. But in 2006, she says it became a nightmare caused by someone she trusted.
"The IRS showed up at my business just unannounced and explained to me that my 940s and my 941s were not paid. And I said I have no clue what you're talking about but we'll call our accountant and figure it out,” she said, “He said I've been trying to get in touch with your accountant for months."
It was discovered that her accountant, Tony Tulli, had collected almost $45,000 in payroll tax money from Ramon, but kept it, instead of turning it over to the IRS. When Tulli pleaded guilty to mail fraud, in connection with the scheme, in October 2011, he also pleaded guilty to similar schemes against two other Northshore businesses, and stealing, in total, more than $1 million. He was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison a year ago, but today, Ramon says the IRS is treating her like the criminal.
"They have seized bank accounts on us, they have liened every piece of property that I own, that I cannot sell. I cannot borrow against it," she said, “They're not trying to collect, but they've got me in a gridlock where I can do nothing."
The sentencing judgment requires Tulli pay restitution, which includes almost $100,000 to the IRS on behalf of Cuts Plus, but Ramon still isn't off the hook.
She said, "Everyone I talk to basically says, ‘I'm sorry you're responsible.’ Even though I have a federal judge saying, ‘You are responsible Tony Tulli. You are the one that stole this money. You need to pay it to the IRS on behalf of Cuts Plus.’ The IRS is choosing not to see that, nor do they care."
The IRS told Eyewitness News says it can't comment on this story “due to disclosure laws that prohibit discussing tax bearers relationship or status with the Internal Revenue Service.” In the meantime, Ramon hopes her story is a warning to others.
The Bureau of Prisons website reports Tulli is eligible for release in October. His sentencing judgment says whatever restitution remains after his release is to be paid in $2,000 increments every month, which is split among the three victims.