SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A former elected official with the Chino-based Inland Empire Utilities Agency was sentenced to 90 days in county jail and 5 years felony probation today for tax evasion.
Angel Santiago, 45, of Fontana received his 5-year county probation sentence under a plea agreement with the district attorney’s office that also requires him to pay restitution.
“Although we were ready to go to trial and felt confident in the facts of this case, we are pleased that Mr. Santiago chose to admit his guilt and take responsibility for his actions,” District Attorney Michael Ramos said. “As I have said many times before, this type of behavior will not be tolerated in San Bernardino County.”
According to the Franchise Tax Board’s (FTB) investigation Santiago failed to report income of approximately $269,189 for the years 2007-09. All income is taxable including income from illegal sources.
In November 2009, the Public Integrity Unit received complaints alleging that Santiago, who was an Inland Empire Utilities Agency board member representing the Fontana area, touting his status as an elected official was obtaining large sums of money as “consulting” fees for services he allegedly never performed.
According to Deputy District Attorney Reza Sadeghi, it was also alleged that Santiago—who was an area franchisor for a car wash company as well—was representing himself as a trusted elected official in order to lure prospective franchisees as investors.
“According to the complainants Mr. Santiago would ask for payments in cash and when people objected, he would ask for checks to be made in his wife’s name,” Sadeghi said. “Investigators were told Santiago would tell people he cannot have anything in his name because he is a board member and it would be a conflict of interest.”
Santiago was charged with failing to disclose the income he received on his Form 700 disclosure forms and on his tax returns.
Angel Santiago’s wife, Valerie Santiago, was a willing participant in her husband’s tax evasion, according to investigators. On Aug. 9, she pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor failing to file a tax return with the intent to evade tax and agreed to pay full restitution.
On August 9, Angel Santiago also pleaded guilty to one count of failing to file a tax return with the intent to evade tax. As part of the plea agreement, Santiago resigned from the Inland Empire Utilities Agency’s Board of Directors.
Today, Santiago agreed to pay full restitution to the California State FTB, including penalties, interest and the cost of the investigation.
FTB’s criminal investigation program identifies and investigates cases of tax evasion and tax fraud to encourage compliance with California income tax laws and maintain the public trust.