Yoga To The People Leaders arrested for tax evasion

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The executives of a popular donation-funded chain of yoga studios could end up behind bars for tax evasion, according to the Department of Justice.

Gregory Gumucio, 61 years old; the leaders of Yoga to the people; Michael Anderson, 51; and Haven Soliman, 33, were arrested on Wednesday for failing to file and pay personal or business tax returns for at least seven years, according to the Southern US District of New York. They are each charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and five counts of tax evasion.

US attorney Damian Williams said in a statement that the trio had made more than $20 million from their now-defunct yoga business, indulging in lavish lifestyles and concocting ways to avoid paying uncle sam.

“The defendants perpetrated their scheme in a variety of ways, including paying employees in cash and off the books, refusing to provide employees with tax documents, failing to keep books and records, paying personal expenses from business accounts and using nominees to disguise their connection to various entities,” Williams said.

The arrest and charges add stains to the legacy of the shuttered franchise, which began offering yoga classes on Manhattan’s Lower East Side around 2006 to everyone, no matter how much money. they could afford to pay for the lessons. Gumucio, founder of Yoga to the People and former apostle of filthy yogi Bikram Choudhury, has faced allegations of sexual misconduct, unsavory management practices as well as allegations of racial discrimination and other wrongdoing. by an Instagram account known as YttP Shadow Work in July 2020. That same year, Vice News reported that it had a decades-long history of attacks on vulnerable women, rape accusations and convictions for crime.

In an email obtained by Vice News, Gumucio told yoga students that posts about him were malicious, claimed harm was never intentionally inflicted, and clarified that the company does not tolerate any form of abuse. ‘abuse.

Yoga to the People closed in 2020, blaming the coronavirus pandemic, but the charges against its executives have shed new light on spurious business practices.

Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Special Agent Thomas Fattorusso said in a statement that the seemingly noble practice of offering yoga to all was nothing more than a “decade-long cash cow.” which relied on a sophisticated network of tens of millions of dollars”. in undeclared income and free labor to finance the lavish lifestyle of the rulers.

The yoga company has grown from one studio in its infancy to approximately 20 yoga studios or affiliate locations in New York and other regions, such as California, Colorado, Arizona, Florida and the State from Washington. Although it hasn’t demanded payment from its participants, the company has made a substantial amount of money through a yoga teacher training program, grossing over $20 million without ever producing. tax filing, according to the complaint.

Between 2015 and 2020, Gumucio had unreported income directly from Yoga to the People of more than $1.6 million and owed the IRS about $431,000, according to prosecutors.

Anderson, the company’s owner and functional chief financial officer, earned $2.1 million in unreported income, owing the IRS an estimated more than $603,000, according to the Justice Department. Soliman, director of communications and director of the teacher training program, made more than $961,000 in unreported earnings, according to the agency.

The trio relished their undeclared wealth by taking frequent extravagant trips abroad, spending large sums on fancy meals and buying NFL season tickets, according to federal prosecutors.

Gumucio allegedly abused his power by targeting and generally grooming young women and others to become “owners” of named studios, the complaint states. He then enticed them with the title of studio owner while continuing to make business decisions, taking a cut of their profits while the nominees faced financial risk. He also allegedly manipulated his employees into providing free services, such as teaching classes or cleaning yoga studios, to maximize his undeclared income.

Over the years, Yoga to the People paid its teachers in cash, prohibited yoga instructors from counting class attendees’ money only to have cash transported to Gumicio’s apartment, and never not maintained head office to keep their books and records, using corporate accounts to pay. for personal expenses, according to investigators.

All three face up to 10 years in prison for their charges. Their legal representation could not be immediately located.

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