by Sam Clanton
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The owner of Tony’s Pizza House in Protem is sentenced to 18 months in federal prison without parole for engaging in a scheme to conceal taxable income from the IRS from April of 2008 to January of 2015.
U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips handed down the sentence to 63-year-old Tony Cowden on Monday. He pleaded guilty to five counts of income tax evasion last August.
Cowden is ordered to pay restitution of more than 138-thousand dollars to the IRS and State of Missouri, and must also pay more than 29-thousand dollars to the Social Security Administration for disability payments he was not entitled to receive.
According to prosecutors, when Cowden listed his business and property for sale in 2015, he apologized to undercover federal agents posing as buyers for not having provable income to substantiate the sale price of 599-thousand dollars, stating it saves him a lot of taxes when he pockets the money from the sale of Keno lottery tickets and cash received from arcade games in the restaurant.
In addition, Cowden encouraged his customers to pay in cash by offering discounts for cash payments, and concealed this income from his accountant, who falsely claimed Cowden was entitled to earned income credit.