Two men allegedly skimmed $130,050 from their own bar and hid the cash in a freezer, cereal and pasta boxes, coffee cans and pots.
John Pinone, a retired professional basketball player and boys basketball coach at Cromwell High School, was in U.S. District Court in New Haven on Thursday, where he pleaded not guilty to federal conspiracy and willfully filing false tax returns. Francis DelMastro, formally of Tolland, was also charged and made his first appearance in court on April 9.
DelMastro and Pinone were the owners of the Civic Pub in Storrs from 2003 to 2005, according to the indictment. They operated under the corporate name, Pindel LLC, from which they are accused of taking the cash and failing to report it on either their business returns filed for the company, or for their own personal income tax returns in 2003 and 2004.
The pair allegedly kept a set of books entitled “Weekly Draw Sheets” that showed Pindel’s actual gross receipts, including the cash deposited into the company account, and the cash kept to the side. DelMastro and Pinone did not provide the documents to those who prepared the tax returns for the company and for their individual returns, according to a news release from the U.S. Justice Department.
The indictment also says that DelMastro kept the skimmed cash in his home hidden within the freezer and various boxes of food and coffee cans.
At the same time in 2003-2004, DelMastro also owned the Bar With No Name in Hartford, at which he allegedly failed to deposit substantial amounts of cash from that bar as well.
If convicted, both defendants could serve a maximum of 11 years in jail and a fine of up $750,000.
Pinone, 49, played one season for the Atlanta Hawks in 1983, and then nine seasons in the European League. He was also the eighth-leading career scorer at Villanova when he played there from 1979 to 1983, scoring 2,024 points. The school retired his No. 45 jersey in 1995.
Andrew Bowman, Pinone’s lawyer, told theHartford Courant, “John Pinone has led an honorable life and been a credit to his community and to his family. We ask the people of this state to keep an open mind and remember John is presumed innocent. These proceedings are at the beginning and not at the end.”