PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There’s a bizarre twist in a massive, local tax evasion scheme investigation, which is being described as one of the biggest ever.
Sources tell KDKA’s Marty Griffin that the feds got wind of all of it is by flying the friendly skies, and looking down.
The Nocito mansion in Bell Acres is described as the largest home in Pennsylvania at nearly 35,000 square feet. It is now the focal point of allegations made in a federal tax fraud investigation.
“I know what house you are referring to. I’ve never seen it, I don’t want to see it,” says defense attorney James DePasquale.
Whether he wants to or not, the mansion is front and center in DePasquale’s case defending client, Ann Harris, who was the personal assistant and secretary for multi-millionaire business man Joe Nocito.
Harris just pleaded guilty to participating in an alleged scheme to take millions of Nocito business dollars, use them for costs at the mansion, and somehow declare all of them business expenses.
“She would be told where to ledger in on the books that these checks should go… what category they should go in,” said DePasquale. “All too often, they were going into write-off categories, business expense categories when, in fact, they were personal expenses for her superiors.”
The criminal complaint alleges construction of the home, upkeep, the swimming pool, a Rolls Royce, other vehicles, chefs, butlers, all put on the books as business expenses.
According to the federal complaint, all of it was illegal.
“We had to face reality that we did this,” says DePasquale. “We did do it at someone else’s direction. But it was something we did, and so we’ve agreed to plead guilty to it.”
Meanwhile, you must look to the skies above the mansion to understand how federal agents began this investigation.
Sources say federal agents flying in and out of Pittsburgh on commercial airplanes saw the mansion from the sky and were blown away by the size and scope of the property and began asking a few questions. That was more than a year ago.
KDKA’s Marty Griffin talked to the U.S. Attorney’s Office about federal agents seeing the Nocito home from the sky and that starting the investigation. The office refused comment.
Joe Nocito, Sr. has not been charged.
His attorney, Phil DiLucente says, “This is a tax dispute, nothing more.”