Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 10, 2015
Sunrise Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Payroll Tax Fraud Scheme
Sonny Austin Ramdeo, 35, of Sunrise, was sentenced today to 240 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release in connection with a $20 million federal payroll tax fraud scheme. Ramdeo was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $21,442,173.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Shimon R. Richmond, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), made the announcement.
Ramdeo previously pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud and money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1343 and 1956(a)(1)(B)(i).
According to statements made in court and court records, from as early as 2005, defendant Ramdeo was employed as the payroll supervisor at Promise Healthcare, Inc. (Promise Healthcare) and Success Healthcare Group (Success Healthcare), both of which owned and operated hospital facilities throughout the United States. As payroll supervisor for these two companies, Ramdeo was responsible for overseeing the payment of bi-weekly wages and related payroll taxes for approximately 4,000 employees. While employed as a payroll supervisor, Ramdeo facilitated a $20 million dollar federal payroll tax fraud scheme. To execute this scheme, Ramdeo incorporated PayServ Tax Inc., and thereafter represented to officers and employees of Promise Healthcare and Success Healthcare that his company would handle the transfer of local, state and federal payroll taxes to the proper agencies. Instead of forwarding all of the monies due to the taxing authorities for employee payroll taxes, Ramdeo stole and embezzled the funds resulting in a $21 million dollar underpayment. By stealing the payroll tax money, Ramdeo caused hospitals to lay off employees, adversely impacted the maintenance and operations of seventeen acute care hospitals, jeopardized services provided to patients, challenged investors’ security, and reduced the amount of money the taxing authorities actually collected.
Court records indicate that Ramdeo kept the taxes paid by Promise and Success Healthcare to PayServ for his own personal use. These stolen monies included employee and company wages. Ramdeo used the proceeds from this fraudulent scheme in order to finance a now defunct charter airline company.
U.S. Attorney Ferrer stated, “Sonny Ramdeo abused the trust bestowed upon him as a payroll supervisor. By stealing payroll taxes for his own personal gain, Ramdeo adversely impacted private citizens and companies. His selfish acts were rightly punished with the imposition of a significant federal sentence.”
“Sonny Austin Ramdeo portrayed himself as a business man who promised his clients that he would file and remit payroll taxes to the proper agencies. He didn’t,’ said Michael A. D’Alonzo, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “Instead, he was blinded by greed and apparently unconcerned about the plight of the thousands of people he bilked to the tune of $20 million in losses.”
Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, stated, “Sonny Austin Ramdeo was responsible for paying local, state and federal payroll taxes to the proper agencies on behalf of thousands of employees, but instead selfishly stole the money for his own personal use. As seen in this case, the failure to pay over withheld payroll taxes is a serious offense that can have severe consequences for both employers and the employees of the affected businesses. Let Ramdeo’s actions and lengthy sentence serve as a warning to those who are considering similar conduct.”
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, IRS-CI, and HHS-OIG. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen L. Cohen.