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July 26, 2014

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Ex-Silver State quartet faces prison terms

Four former top executives of Silver State Disposal Service who pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit tax fraud could spend 10 to 30 months in prison.

They allegedly used company funds to buy personal goods and services and wrote them off as business expenses over a 10-year period.

In addition, in a plea agreement, SSDS Liquidating Corp., formerly known as Silver State Disposal, admitted to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government and two counts of filing false U.S. corporate income tax returns.

The corporation is alleged to have defrauded the government out of $3.4 million, but in the agreement admitted to causing a tax loss of $1,135,000, which can be specifically attributed to its participation in the fraud.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Barr said the corporation agreed to pay a $1 million fine plus about $50,000 in prosecution fees.

According to Barr, the corporate agreement had been made earlier but was not unsealed until Monday morning for fear of tainting the guilty pleas of the four principals in the conspiracy, which was revealed in April 1996 in a 26-count federal grand jury indictment.

The four pleaded guilty in plea bargained agreements that were being finalized at the same time a jury was being called for the federal trial.

They were Joseph Anstett, Silver State president; Richard Isola, vice president of operations; Thomas Isola, vice president of marketing; and Aldo Lippetti, a corporate officer.

U.S. District Judge Lloyd George ordered the men to return to court for sentencing on Feb. 13 after a pre-sentencing investigation is conducted.

George said after the investigation if he decides the court will not abide by the binding agreement worked out between the defendants and federal attorneys, then they will be able to withdraw their guilty pleas and have a trial.

The individuals and the firm are alleged to have used false financial information to help get approval of rate increases, the last one in 1994.

Federal investigators said that had the financial information been accurate, each customer's monthly trash bill would have been 71 cents less.

Silver State, which was sold to Republic Industries Inc. for $378 million in September, has an exclusive contract to pick up trash in Clark County, North Las Vegas, Henderson and Las Vegas.

Republic retained the name Silver State when it bought the corporation.

The new owners are not responsible for the tax liabilities and fines of the former corporation or the former executives, Barr said.

IRS investigator Mike Berry said the conspiracy involved mail fraud because of using the Postal Service to send false documents.

Sentences that were recommended as part of a plea bargain agreement ranged from 10 to 30 months.

If the defendants had gone to trial and were convicted, they faced maximum penalties of $250,000 and five years in prison.

Also charged in the tax fraud case were welding section manager Craig Carstensen, general operations section Manager Carl Carlton and foreman Frank Meccariello.

Meccariello pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy and will be sentenced Nov. 14. As part of his plea agreement he is expected to receive probation.

Carlton pleaded guilty Thursday and Carstensen entered his plea-bargained guilty plea Monday morning, which Barr said was the catalyst for the other four defendants to negotiate a settlement that would assure the state the men would receive jail time.

Anstett admitted causing a tax loss of about $40,000; Richard Isola admitted to causing a tax loss of $380,000; Thomas Isola, $40,000; and Lippetti, $70,000.

The IRS accused Silver State of including in its expenses personal purchases made by top officers and employees, among them the remodeling of five homes, a barn and a horse ranch.

Investigators said the men paid for labor on their homes, bought a Jet Ski, food and numerous other personal items, and, using two other companies, made it appear on purchase orders that Silver State was buying steel.

Barr said Richard Isola was the worst offender of the group and it was recommended that he be sentenced to 24 to 30 months, the stiffest recommendation of the four.

He allegedly defrauded the government out of more than $380,000.

Thomas Isola, reportedly Richard's cousin, was recommended to serve a maximum sentence of 10 months.

Prosecutors recommended a sentence of 10 to 16 months for Anstett and 12-18 months for Lippetti.

Carstensen and Carlton pleaded guilty to conspiracy and filing fraudulent tax returns and were recommended sentences ranging from 10 to 16 months. They are to return to court Feb. 5 for sentencing.

The conspirators also may be fined, George said.

In the plea agreement, the corporation admitted:

* Illegally providing personal services and personal property to a number of individuals, including officers of the corporation.

* Providing personal goods and services on company time and at company expense.

* That between 1984 and 1994, it used Steel Engineers Corp. or P&S Metals Corp. to buy "steel products" that were actually personal goods and services.

Anstett admitted to placing private contractors on the payroll as a way to pay them for performing construction at his personal residence. He also admitted to signing false federal corporate tax returns for the years 1989, 1990 and 1991.

Richard Isola admitted to using company workers to perform construction on his personal residence in Medford, Ore., and at the home of his son, John, at Mount Charleston.

Thomas Isola admitted using company employees to perform personal services at his ranch in Logandale while being paid by the company.

Lippetti also admitted using company employees for personal services.

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