Tony’s Pizza owner sentenced to 18 months in federal prison
Tony E. Cowden, 63, owner of the popular Tony’s Pizza House restaurant in Protem, was sentenced Monday, Jan. 8, to 18 months in federal prison without parole. The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips in connection with tax evasion charges. Cowden pleaded guilty to five counts of income tax evasion in federal court Aug. 22, 2017. According to a recent press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, Cowden admitted that he engaged in a scheme to conceal taxable income from the IRS from April 2008 to January 2015 by skimming from cash sales at the business and not reporting the cash income to the IRS.
After Cowden reportedly listed his business and property for sale in 2015, two undercover agents from IRS Criminal Investigation posed as potential buyers. Cowden apologized to the undercover agents for not having provable income to substantiate the $599,000 sales price but said, “it saves me a lot of taxes,” the statement says. Cowden reportedly admitted to the undercover agents that he “pockets” all the money from the sale of Keno-Lotto tickets and from the cash generated by arcade games in his restaurant. He maintained true and correct financial for the business in a black three-ring binder.
Federal and state tax losses for those five years total $138,527. Cowden must pay restitution to the IRS and to the state of Missouri. He must also pay $29,581 to the Social Security Administration for Social Security disability payments that he was not entitled to receive.