Wayne Rizzi, the owner of 20-year-old air charter broker Air Royale International, pleaded guilty yesterday to “willfully failing to pay over collected Federal Excise Taxes [FET] to the IRS.” The IRS said that from Oct. 1, 2008, through Dec. 31, 2010, Air Royale collected FET from its customers totaling $489,784, but passed on only $29,286 of this amount to the agency.
According to the plea agreement, “In his capacity as president, CEO and owner of Air Royale, Rizzi understated Air Royale’s excise tax liability on tax returns filed for each of the five taxable quarters ending Dec. 31, 2008 through Dec. 31, 2009, and caused Air Royale to not file any quarterly excise tax returns for the entire year of 2010.” In all, the IRS said Rizzi failed to report and pay $460,498 of the excise taxes collected.
“In a well intentioned, but misguided effort to steer the company through the challenges of the economic collapse of 2008, I didn’t facilitate the excise taxes in a proper manner,” Rizzi told AIN in a statement. “Continual efforts are being taken with the IRS to resolve the years in question. I take full and sole responsibility. Rest assured, Air Royale, under new management, will continue to operate, providing superior service, as it has since 1994.” In the meantime, Air Royale vice president Tig Osborne is acting president.
Rizzi faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison and a fine of at least $250,000 when sentenced on November 3.