Ohio Small Business Owner Faces Federal Charges Over Alleged Illegal Gambling Operations and Tax Fraud

Steven Saris, an entrepreneur from Canton, Ohio, finds himself at the center of a significant federal investigation involving illegal gambling businesses (IGBs), tax evasion, and a slew of other charges. This development might serve as a cautionary tale for small business owners about the consequences of flouting legal and fiscal responsibilities.

The federal grand jury in Cleveland recently returned a superseding indictment, implicating Saris in a decade-long operation of multiple IGBs across Ohio. These establishments include Café 62, Lucky’s, Winner’s World, Spin City, and another unnamed IGB in Springfield. Allegedly, to maintain secrecy over his involvement, Saris had other individuals pose as the official owners of these businesses. Such tactics are not uncommon in businesses that hope to bypass regulatory and tax obligations.

Moreover, the indictment also claims that Saris refrained from filing personal income tax returns from 2016 to 2021, despite amassing an income surpassing $4 million from his IGBs. Such acts raise concerns about the broader implications for small businesses. If key players within the community are not upholding their tax responsibilities, it not only hampers the government’s ability to provide essential services but also sets a concerning precedent for other entrepreneurs.

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Further complicating matters, Saris reportedly engaged in the destruction of pertinent business records linked to each IGB, presumably to eliminate evidence of his alleged misdemeanors. This allegation, if proven true, showcases a blatant attempt to obstruct justice and evade accountability.

Equally disturbing are the reports that Saris paid IGB employees in cash, neglecting to maintain records or pay requisite employment taxes. Such actions can have grave consequences for employees, especially those unaware of the employer’s alleged evasion tactics. Without appropriate documentation, workers might find themselves without recourse or protection in legal disputes or in accessing benefits.

The extent of Saris’s alleged measures to evade capture is further evidenced by claims he hid his cell phone in a toilet’s water tank during a search of his residence to presumably prevent the seizure of potentially incriminating data.

Upon conviction, the stakes are high for Saris. He could face up to five years of imprisonment for each of the multiple charges against him, with the money laundering allegations carrying a maximum penalty of ten years each.

Small Business Deals

This unfolding saga was brought to light by Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Rebecca C. Lutzko for the Northern District of Ohio. Several prominent agencies, including the IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, have collaborated in this extensive probe.

With small businesses serving as the backbone of local economies, it’s crucial for proprietors to operate within the confines of the law. Allegations like those against Saris underscore the importance of legal and financial integrity in the business realm.

It’s worth noting that an indictment remains an allegation. Steven Saris, like all defendants, retains the right to be presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

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