Casino ship official had tax issue
By AMY WIMMER, Times Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG -- The chairman of a company that plans to bring a gambling ship to St. Petersburg's port overstated his business expenses on tax returns in the 1990s and paid the Internal Revenue Service $55,996 in back taxes.
Mark Juliano, chairman of Titan Cruise Lines, which plans to bring a casino boat to St. Petersburg, filed the tax returns when he was head of Caesars Atlantic City.
The questions about his taxes arose in 2000 during a routine background check after Juliano applied to renew his gaming license in New Jersey. He amended his federal income tax returns for the years 1995 through 1997 and paid the disputed amount.
The New Jersey Casino Control Commission voted unanimously to renew Juliano's license.
St. Petersburg city officials said Saturday that they did background checks of Titan executives, but did not extend their search to include members of the board of directors, such as Juliano.
"If we had our choice, it would be nice to have these people not have any abnormalities or issues surrounding this," said Joe Zeoli, the city's waterfront enterprise director. "But certainly, the way it was handled was appropriate."
Juliano remained chairman of the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority following his tax problems. Casino Control Commission Chairman James Hurley criticized Juliano at the time.
"(The) applicant's cavalier attitude toward his income tax obligations and the need for accurate record keeping, which caused the recent turmoil in his life, cannot be condoned nor will it be tolerated in the future," Hurley wrote in a 20-page decision, according to news reports in New Jersey.
Juliano called his tax problems "a nonissue."
"They wanted my taxes cleaned up a little bit. . . . So we did it and paid the difference for those years that they felt that we owed," Juliano said.
St. Petersburg City Council members weren't aware of Juliano's tax troubles when they unanimously approved the cruise operation Thursday. Cayman Islands-based Titan plans two daily gambling cruises from the Port of St. Petersburg into international waters starting in March.
The tax returns questioned by the casino commission in New Jersey were prepared by an out-of-state accountant who was a gambler at Caesars. He tried to report Juliano's gambling losses as a business expense and said Juliano drove 180,000 miles on a car that had 69,000 miles on the odometer, according to news reports.
Asked at the time if the case would hurt his reputation, Juliano said: "That's for other people to decide, not me."
-- Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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