IRS tax evasion by a pizza shop owner doesn’t seem like national news, but when the pizza shop was featured in the movie that helped jumpstart the acting career of Julia Roberts, it’s a different story. John Zelepos, the owner of Connecticut’s famous Mystic Pizza faces 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion and financial structuring crimes. The Tax Resolution Institute warns business owners never to screw around with the IRS.
After acting as the setting for the 1988 movie about three waitresses, the Connecticut pizza shop took off in popularity. As the money poured in, John Zelepos diverted over half a million dollars in profits into his own bank accounts. In the court decision, he agreed to make restitution of $234,407 to the IRS for incomplete tax filings dating from 2006 to 2010, and to forfeit an additional $522,658 that he deposited into his personal accounts.