MIDLAND, Texas — A Midland man was sentenced to 24 months in prison on Thursday, Aug. 11, for failure to pay taxes on behalf of his employees.
According to court documents, Thomas Valdez Rodriguez, 45, the former owner of both Tom-E-Lee Trucking and Tom-E-Lee Industries, did not pay employment taxes that were withheld from his trucking company’s employees’ pay checks from 2012-18.
In addition, from 2015-18, Rodriguez failed to pay the employment taxes withheld from the employees of his industry company, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas stated.
Rodriguez also failed to pay personal income taxes since 2011, according to the news release.
“Rodriguez caused a total tax harm of $12,714,214.42 in unpaid payroll taxes for both companies and unpaid personal income taxes,” the news release stated.
The U.S. attorney said that Rodriguez used some of the unpaid tax money for season tickets on the 50-yard line at Dallas Cowboys football games and chartered jets to ferry him and friends to those games. He also purchased a new residence for more $2 million.
On January 12, 2022, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to two counts of willful failure to account for and pay over federal withholding taxes.
In addition to his prison sentence, Rodriguez was ordered to pay $12,714,214.42 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
He paid $1 million of that right before his sentencing, according to the news release.
“This sentence serves as a reckoning for a defendant that deliberately evaded paying federal payroll taxes, cheating the tax system, his employees, and in the end, all American taxpayers,” U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff said. “Here we had a business owner who withheld money from his employees’ pay and rather than paying the employment taxes as he was trusted to do, he turned those funds into a personal piggy bank to fuel whatever he desired in his extravagant lifestyle.”
IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Ramsey E. Covington of the Houston Field Office called the collection and payment of employment taxes by business owners on behalf of their employees “a cornerstone of our country’s voluntary tax system.”
“Thomas Rodriguez’s failure to pay over withheld employment taxes to the IRS is a serious criminal offense,” he continued. “Additionally, Rodriguez spent the millions in unpaid employment taxes on himself, funding his lavish lifestyle and burgeoning business. These actions not only harmed his employees’ future Social Security and Medicare benefits, he was also stealing from all honest taxpayers and the United States Treasury. IRS-CI will continue to track down business owners and payroll professionals who, like Rodriguez, use their employees’ withheld employment taxes for their own personal gain.”
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.