Filipino event promoter found guilty of tax fraud

by Philippine Daily Mirror

CHICAGO (March 18) – Concert promoter Manilen Mendoza, 45, of Schiller Park, Il. was found guilty of filing false tax returns by a Chicago Federal Court on March 12. She was convicted on three counts of violation of Title 26 of the United States Code, Section 7206 (1).

Title 26, Section 7206 (1) refers “to any person who willfully makes and subscribes any return, statement, or other document, which contains or is verified by a written declaration that it is made under the penalties of perjury, and which he does not believe to be true and correct as to every material matter.”

Mendoza was also known using the aliases Manilen Mangalindan and Manilen Blake.

The tax fraud charges relate to Mendoza’s activity as the owner and operator of a concert promotion business called Infinity Productions, and later, was known as Prestige Entertainment, Inc.  Prestige promoted concerts not only in the West Coast but also throughtout the US.

According to Special Agent Maria Suarez of the Chicago Field Office of the IRS Criminal investigation who was contacted for this story, Mendoza promised investors a 100 percent return on their money when they invested in her business.  From the beginning of 2004 until the end of 2006, Mendoza fraudulently obtained money from investors by making false statements about famous performers which she said she had contracts with.  Mendoza, however, did not have contracts with any of the famous celebrities that she named.

“Mendoza took investors’ money and converted it to her personal use but failed to report the money she received from her entertainment business as income on her tax returns,” Suarez said.

According to the indictment, Mendoza reported taxable income of $14,000 in her 2004 tax return. She did not report additional gross income of $180,243 which she had received in 2004 from her business, Infinity Productions.

In her 2005 tax return, she reported taxable income of $17,699 but not the additional gross income of $104,801 she had received in 2005 from her business, Prestige Entertainment, Inc.

In like manner, although she had received additional income in 2006 of $247,310 from her business Prestige Entertainment, Inc., she only reported a taxable income of $12,190 for that year.

In the three-year period, Mendoza did not report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a gross income of $532,354.

IRS Special Agent Suarez said Mendoza was indicted by a federal grand jury in November 2007 whereupon an arrest warrant was issued. The indictment was filed November 29, 2007 with the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, with Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole, docketed as Case 1:07-cr-00788.

According to Suarez, Mendoza was first arrested by the San Francisco police in March 2008 for defrauding investors out of their money. She was imprisoned there for about a year before she was brought to Chicago for arraignment on the federal charges. After she pleaded not guilty, a trial ensued on March 9. Three days later, the jury returned a guilty verdict.

“Mendoza has two children residing in the Philippines,” Suarez said. “Her sister, a nun, Celestine Buncal, was
supposed to testify at the trial against Mendoza.  Manilen’s husband, Norberto, was to be her witness but decided not to testify.”  Efforts to contact Mendoza or her husband for comments about this story did not yield result.

Pending sentencing on June 24,2009, Mendoza is out of prison on a $300,000 personal recognizance bond. Each count of tax fraud carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine. After serving her sentence on the tax fraud federal charges, Mendoza has yet to return to San Francisco, California to face state charges in a U.S. District Court.

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