DOJ: ship repair business in Portsmouth and NY dodged $500K tax bill

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A Florida man faces up to five years in prison for failing to pay almost $500,000 in taxes on ship repair businesses in Portsmouth, Va. and New York.

Napolean Robinson, 65, of Lauderhill, Fla., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Norfolk Wednesday to charges of evading federal employment taxes, according to a release from U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente. He was charged by criminal information on Aug. 12.

The name of his company was “Lianne Rolle dba Sky Enterprises Inc.,” according to court documents. The business is located at 2401 High St. in Portsmouth, according to Alan Ross, an attorney for Robinson.

“He immediately accepted responsibility for having done that,” Ross said. “Beyond that, there isn’t much to say.”

Between January 2000 and December 2013, Robinson owned a string of ship welding and repair businesses in Virginia and New York, the release said. He fell behind in payments to the Internal Revenue Service beginning in 2005; instead of negotiating a schedule for the payments, which were employment taxes he withheld from employees, he closed the business and reopened a new one under a different name.

Over the course of the scheme, he ran businesses named for his sister, his niece and a friend. He made business and personnel decisions, however; they simply served as nominee owners, the release said.

When the IRS detected his “pyramiding” scheme, it began an investigation. On June 13, 2013, Robinson made false statements to an IRS investigator, in an effort to avoid liability for the unpaid taxes, according to court documents.

Robinson will be sentenced on Jan. 25, 2017.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.

Sky Enterprises Inc. is located on High Street in Portsmouth.
Sky Enterprises Inc. is located at 2401 High St. in Portsmouth.

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Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, TIME.com, nationalgeographic.com and Talking Points Memo. Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, TIME.com, nationalgeographic.com and Talking Points Memo. Her recent book, Just Another Southern Town: Mary Church Terrell and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Nation’s Capital, was shortlisted for the 2017 Mark Lynton History Prize. Her first book, The Day the Earth Caved In: An American Mining Tragedy, won the 2005 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.