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Walled Lake restaurateur sent to prison for tax fraud

The Detroit News

A Walled Lake business owner was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison for defrauding the federal government out of $1.7 million in tax payments, the Justice Department said.

Johni Semma

According to court statements and filings, Johni Semma owned Bayside Sports Bar & Grill and the Coliseum, an adult entertainment business but filed only two employment tax returns on time from the first quarter of 2008 through the first quarter of 2015.

In a news release, the department said Semma was required to file 29 employment tax returns during that period and did not pay about $1.3 million in taxes that were due.

In 2012, Semma sold The Coliseum for about $5.9 million but did not file an individual income tax return or pay taxes for that year, causing a tax loss of about $463,000 to the IRS, the Justice Department said.

Semma pleaded guilty on Aug. 28, 2019, to one count of employment tax fraud and one count of failure to file his individual income tax return.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Paul D. Borman ordered Semma to pay $1,793,771 in restitution to the IRS.