Former WI produce vendor executive pleads guilty to tax evasion

Wisconsin State Farmer
Tree Ripe Citrus Company executive concealed more than $250,000 in business income.

MADISON - The former corporate officer of a produce vendor who allegedly concealed more than $250,000 in business income has entered a guilty plea.

Sixty-four year old Thomas G. Paine, pleaded guilty to tax evasion, said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Scott C. Blader for the Western District of Wisconsin.

According  to the indictment and information provided to the court, Paine,was the Vice President and Treasurer of G.W. Paine Inc., which sold fresh fruit and other produce under the business name Tree Ripe Citrus Company of Johnson Creek, WI .

At the time, Paine was responsible for the finance and tax aspects of the business, but failed to file corporate tax returns for tax years 2010 through 2012 and concealed the business’ income from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by structuring cash bank deposits in amounts less than $10,000 to evade bank reporting requirements.

Paine admitted to causing a tax loss between $250,000 and $550,000.

In this 2011 file photo, Glenrose Klug of Mequon carries a box of peaches to her car Wednesday while Terry Kostroski of Tree Ripe Citrus Co. prepares for the next customer. The company also sells blueberries from the back of its truck in the Circle B Recreation lot in the Town of Cedarburg.

Paine's father, Gordon, started the Tree Ripe Citrus Company 28 years ago after working as a trucker for a Florida citrus gift company. In December and January, the Paine family delivers Florida grapefruit and oranges. In July, it's Georgia peaches.

U.S. District Court Judge James D. Peterson scheduled sentencing for May 8. Paine faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison, a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties. 

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Blader commended special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Altman and Trial Attorney Eric C. Schmale of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case.