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Sex trade suspect admits tax fraud
By Times Staff Writer
Published January 26, 2008
TAMPA - The owner of a lingerie modeling shop that authorities say was used for prostitution will spend a year and a day in federal prison for filing false income tax returns on the business, a judge ordered Friday.
Ronald J. Sass, 69, of Tampa signed a guilty plea agreement in October, admitting to filing fraudulent corporate tax returns for 2000 and 2001. The IRS says Sass failed to report income totaling $62,695.
Chief U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich ordered Sass to pay that much in restitution to the IRS.
Federal court records show that Sass operated Sophisticats Inc., described as a lingerie modeling business near Kennedy Boulevard and Dale Mabry Highway. Prosecutors said Sass earned money through the business from prostitution.
According to prosecutors, prostitutes paid Sass a $30 "room fee" to use his premises. He also charged a credit card handling fee and imposed fines for violating "in-house" rules.
Hillsborough County Jail records show that Sass was arrested in August 2004 and charged with three counts of deriving support from proceeds of prostitution, three counts of aiding or abetting prostitution and one count of operating a place for lewdness. Sass was indicted on the federal charge in April 2005.
The IRS considers income earned through illegal activities as taxable. Anyone who does not report those proceeds can be prosecuted.
Sass remains free on bail following the federal conviction. The judge gave him 60 days to put his affairs in order before turning himself in.