Authorities Allege a Free Yoga Chain Didn’t Pay Taxes

The Justice Department claims that the owners of a well-known yoga studio business that relies on donations from the public could go to prison for tax evasion.

Leadership Yoga for the People US Southern District of New York claims that on Wednesday, they arrested Gregory Gumusio, 61, Michael Anderson, 51, and Haven Soliman, 33, for failing to file and pay personal and/or business tax returns for a period of at least seven years. Two counts of tax evasion and one count of conspiracy to deceive the IRS have been filed against each of them.

U.S. Atty. Damian Williams claimed in a statement that the three made over $20 million from the now-defunct yoga business, allowing them to live extravagantly and devise schemes to avoid paying taxes.

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Williams stated that the defendants “carried out their plan in a variety of ways, including paying employees in cash and out of bookkeeping,” withholding tax documents from employees, keeping books and records, paying personal expenses from business accounts, and various involves using nominees to hide their connections to entities.

No matter how much money people paid for yoga sessions in Manhattan’s Lower East Side before the franchise shut down in roughly 2006, the arrests and charges will remain a lasting testament to the business. The creator of Yoga for the People and former disciple of disgraced yogi Bikram Choudhury, Gumusio, has been accused of a number of wrongdoings, including discrimination against people of color, sexual misconduct, and unfair management practices. Instagram profile YttP Shadow Work, in July 2020. Vice News documented his decades-long pattern of preying on helpless women, as well as charges of rape and criminal activity, in the same year.

Gumucio told yoga students in an email obtained by Vice News that the messages against him were malicious, that the harm was never intended, and that the company does not accept abuse of any type.

Though the coronavirus epidemic was cited as the reason Yoga for People shut down in 2020, charges against its leaders have since surfaced, shedding additional light on fraudulent business activities.

Criminal investigation head for the IRS, Thomas Fatoruso, released a statement calling the payout to everyone a “decade-long cash cow that relied on a sophisticated network of millions of dollars.” To pay for the opulent lifestyles of the powerful with black money and slave labor.

From its humble beginnings in a single studio in New York City, the yoga firm has expanded to over 20 studios and linked sites in New York City and other areas such as California, Colorado, Arizona, Florida, and Washington State. According to the complaint, although it did not require payment from its class attendance, the company generated a large sum from a yoga teacher training program, making more than $20 million without filing a corporation tax return.

The government claims Gumucio earned no more than $1.6 million from the money between 2015 and 2020, and that he owes the IRS around $431,000.

Anderson, a shareholder in the firm and its functional chief financial officer, allegedly received $2.1 million in unrestricted income, which amounted to more than $603,000 in taxes, as reported by the Justice Department. The government claims that Soliman, as chief communications officer and director of the teacher education program, collected more than $961,000 in undisclosed revenue.

Federal prosecutors claim that the three friends spent their unrestrained income on regular lavish trips abroad, extensive dining out, and NFL season tickets.

According to the accusation, Gumuccio “abused his influence” by setting up young women and others to look like they were “owners” of the studio. The nominees’ financial security was put in jeopardy as he continued to make economic decisions that benefited just himself. He allegedly influenced his staff into giving away their time (by teaching lessons or cleaning yoga studios for free) so that he could increase his unconstrained revenue.

The yoga community has a long history of paying its teachers in cash, prohibiting teachers from collecting dues or collecting money from students, transporting cash solely to Gumisio’s apartment, and writing checks from personal accounts to cover expenses. ceased keeping corporate records at a central location. Investigators believe it was used for purely discretionary purposes.

The maximum sentence for each of the three counts is ten years in prison. It took some time to find them legal representation.