Ex-Boca payroll director gets 20 years for stealing $20M

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Ex-Boca payroll director gets 20 years for stealing $20M

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Jul 10, 2015

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/ ... 20m/nmwWM/

Ex-Boca payroll director gets 20 years for stealing $20M
Thursday, July 9, 2015

WEST PALM BEACH

Born in Guyana, Sonny Ramdeo dreamed of starting an airline that would ferry fellow Guyanese from the South America nation to their adopted homelands in New York and Toronto.

While he accomplished his dream, he bankrolled it with more than $20 million he stole during his time as payroll director for Promise Healthcare, which employees 4,000 people and serves thousands of patients at 17 acute care hospitals in eight states from its corporate headquarters in Boca Raton.

On Thursday, Ramdeo learned it will cost him 20 years of his life.

“That he put all these people and companies in such a horrible predicament and he did it because he thought he could be the next Richard Branson,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Cohen, scoffing at Ramdeo’s grandiose plan to try to mimic billionaire British businessman, the founder of Virgin Atlantic.

Peter Baronoff, CEO of Promise Healthcare, urged U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Marra to punish his once-trusted manager harshly. “In my wildest dreams, I never thought this would happen,” he said. “I certainly believe we have been victimized greatly. Our ability to move forward with our company has been hurt.”

It will take years, he said, for the company to repay the Internal Revenue Service. “His (sentence) should serve as an example for others in similar positions,” Baronoff said.

Marra, who found that Ramdeo had lied under oath - twice - in an ultimately failed attempt to recant his October 2013 guilty pleas to charges of wire fraud and money-laundering, could have meted out a far harsher punishment.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Ramdeo faced between 22 and 27 years in prison.

Citing Ramdeo’s “foolish” efforts to recant and federal efforts to reduce the length of sentences for those convicted of similar crimes, Marra opted to give Ramdeo a break.

For opposite reasons both Cohen and Ramdeo objected to the 20-year sentence. Ramdeo said he planned to appeal.

The 38-year-old urged Marra to consider the five years he worked as a loyal employee before he began funneling Promise’s payroll taxes into Payserv Tax, a private company he formed. Without telling supervisors of his involvement in Payserv, he urged them to use it when a previous payroll services firm dropped Promise because it got $3 million behind on payroll taxes.

When Promise sent to Payserv millions for payroll taxes, he sent part of the cash to another company he created, EZ-Jet GT. It began offering charter jet service from Guyana to New York and then Toronto. With plans to begin service from Miami as well, it collapsed when Ramdeo’s scheme unravelled, Cohen said.

From October 2011 until October 2012, Promise sent $116 million to Payserv and other accounts Ramdeo controlled, she said. Of that, roughly $91 million was paid to the IRS and local and state taxing authorities. Ramdeo, she said, kept the rest.

Further, she said, it wasn’t the first time Ramdeo took advantage of his position. In 2000, while working as a payroll manager for a firm in New York, he was convicted of grand larceny for stealing $55,000 by writing bogus checks to himself, she said.

“This is someone we need to protect society from because this is someone who didn’t learn his lesson the first time he was convicted,” she said.

Ramdeo disagreed. Speaking in a calm and clear voice, he said his downfall was his selfless character. “I’ve spent my life dedicated to the service of others and not myself,” he said.

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