Former Jersey Shore star Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino and his brother Marc Sorrentino pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges today in U. S. District Court for New Jersey, according to a Department of Justice news release.
Michael Sorrentino pleaded guilty to tax evasion while his brother entered a guilty plea to aiding in the preparation of a fraudulent tax return.
The guilty pleas come one month before the brothers were scheduled to stand trial. Michael Sorrentino was facing 13 felony charges in relation to tax fraud and conspiracy.
According to court documents, the brothers founded a number of companies, including MPS Entertainment, Situation Nation and Situation Productions designed to take advantage of Michael Sorrentino’s status as a reality television star.
Through those companies, the Sorrentinos made money through a partnership in a vodka company, ownership of an online clothing business, publication of a Situation autobiography and a comic book featuring The Situation as a superhero, plus product endorsements including jewelry, sunglasses, tuxedos, clothing lines, DVDs and vitamins.
The U. S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey originally charged Michael Sorrentino with tax fraud conspiracy, alleging that he failed to pay taxes on approximately $8.9 million of income by filing false tax returns that failed to report much of his income.
Much of the money the Sorrentinos kept away from the IRS was made through The Situation’s personal appearances at nightclubs, bars and liquor stores, according to the original grand jury indictment.
Michael Sorrentino accepted appearance fees ranging from $1,500 to $48,000 and had the event organizers pay him in cash. The money was then placed into bank accounts controlled by him and his brother, in amounts totaling less than $10,000 to avoid extra attention from banking officials.
While Michael Sorrentino hired an accounting firm to handle his tax returns, he kept the firm in the dark about how much money he was really making, the indictment said.
After the grand jury began investigating Michael Sorrentino, he responded to subpoenas by providing altered tax software and journal entries.
The investigation determined Sorrentino improperly claimed business expenses for items including luxury cars and expensive clothing.
Michael Sorrentino did not file any tax return in 2011 despite earning $1,995,557 that year, according to the indictment.
Court documents indicate Michael Sorrentino faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and will be required to repay the government. He was also required to file proper tax returns from the years 2010-2013 before entering his guilty plea.
Marc Sorrentino faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison.
Michael Sorrentino appeared in Jersey Shore from 2009 to 2012 and has since made the circuit of reality television shows including appearing on Season 11 of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.