September 25, 2014 / 12:43 AM / 4 years ago

Star of reality TV show 'Jersey Shore' charged with tax fraud

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino, star of the reality TV show “Jersey Shore,” and his brother have been charged with not paying taxes on $8.9 million in income, according to an indictment handed down on Wednesday.

Reality television personality Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino arrives at the 2011 American Music Awards in Los Angeles November 20, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Sorrentino, 32, who popularized the phrase “gym, tan, laundry” to refer to the pre-party routine of the show’s cast members, allegedly failed to report income while also claiming clothes and cars as business expenses.

The brothers are charged with conspiring to defraud the U.S. government and filing false tax returns, the U.S. attorney in New Jersey said.

“An indictment is merely an unproven allegation,” Michael Sorrentino’s lawyer, Richard Sapinski, said on Wednesday. “Michael has pleaded not guilty and is entitled to be considered not guilty until otherwise proven. He denies that he criminally violated the tax laws.”

The MTV series “Jersey Shore,” which stopped production in 2012, featured a cast of 20-something Italian-Americans partying, tanning and complaining about their jobs at a beachfront T-shirt stand.

According to the indictment, Sorrentino was paid between $1,500 and $48,000 for appearances at nightclubs, bars and liquor stores between 2010 and 2012, and failed to declare some of it.

The brothers also disguised personal grooming expenses as legitimate business expenses in information provided to their accountant, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors also accused Sorrentino’s companies of altering accounting records before providing them in response to grand jury subpoenas.

A photo posted to Sorrentino’s Twitter account just before the charges were announced on Wednesday showed text that read: “To be old and wise you must first be young and dumb.”

“Rather than living in reality and reporting their true income, Michael Sorrentino and his brother Marc created the illusion that they earned less income by filing false and fraudulent tax returns,” Jonathan Larsen, who heads the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigations unit in Newark, New Jersey, said in announcing the indictment.

In 2011, clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch offered to pay Sorrentino to stop wearing its clothes because the company was worried about damage to its reputation.

Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by Susan Heavey, G Crosse, Cynthia Osterman and Lisa Shumaker

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