An accountant who conspired with former state senator Brian A. Joyce to cheat the IRS out of about $600,000 was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in federal prison.
John H. Nardozzi, a certified public accountant from Waltham, was convicted by a jury in October of helping Joyce evade taxes through a series of schemes, including deducting more than $2 million in personal expenses by labeling them legal fees.
US District Court Judge William G. Young rejected prosecutors’ request for a prison term of more than three years, but said incarceration was necessary because Nardozzi had “rigged” the tax system against “the little guy.”
“You were a rigger,” said Young, who also ordered Nardozzi to pay more than $598,000 in restitution and serve three years of probation after his release. Nardozzi is scheduled to report to prison February 20.
Nardozzi’s lawyer, Dennis Kelly, had requested three years’ probation, with six months’ home confinement. Nardozzi told the court that his client didn’t profit from the schemes, receiving “nothing more than a reasonable fee for the preparation of his taxes.”
“He’s not getting a cut of the action, so to speak,” Kelly said.
Joyce, a Milton Democrat who once served as the Senate’s assistant majority leader, died of a drug overdose in September 2018 while facing a 113-count federal indictment. Prosecutors had alleged he collected about $1 million in bribes and kickbacks and laundered them through his law firm. Joyce was facing charges of corruption, money laundering, and honest services fraud when he was found dead in his Westport home. He was 56.
The charges against him were dismissed after his death.
Investigators said Nardozzi helped Joyce shortchange the government by misclassifying expenses such as tuition for his children, a trip to Aruba, home repairs, clothing purchases, and house cleaning.
“Instead of having his client share the burden that every tax-paying citizen bears, Nardozzi duped the IRS for years in exchange for collecting tens of thousands of dollars in tax preparation fees,” assistant US Attorney Dustin Chao wrote in a sentencing memo.
In court documents, prosecutors alleged Joyce, who was indicted in December 2017, sold his Senate seat to the highest bidder, rewarding companies that ostensibly hired his law firm. And those companies, prosecutors said, received favorable legislative support.
Prosecutors, citing thousands of emails, alleged that Nardozzi was not just Joyce’s tax preparer but one of his “closest business confidantes” and the senator made few business decisions without consulting him.
One email chain contained the subject line: “The Brian A. Joyce Empire” and detailed the firm’s profits and losses. Another email detailed how the accountant would classify profits Joyce received from the firm as “legal expenses” and were therefore deductible.
Together Nardozzi and Joyce underreported $793,900 on Joyce’s corporate tax returns for the years 2011 through 2014, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors launched an investigation into Joyce after a series of stories by The Boston Globe in early 2015 examined Joyce’s mingling of public and personal business. Joyce announced in 2016 he would not seek reelection, ending a 20-year career as a state lawmaker.
Nardozzi’s attorney has suggested that after Joyce’s death, prosecutors unfairly “focused their wrath” on his client.
“No evidence was presented at trial to support or even suggest Nardozzi knew about, let alone was involved in, any of the alleged public corruption activities of Brian Joyce,” Kelly wrote in a court memo.
Kelly noted that another tax preparer later filed the Joyces’ taxes in later years, but was never charged, nor was Joyce’s wife, Mary, who signed the joint tax returns. She was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the case, Kelly wrote.
But in court Thursday, Young rejected that claim. He said there was “not the slightest suggestion” that Nardozzi’s prosecution was “the least bit vindictive.”
“You are guilty of these crimes,” he said.
Andrea Estes can be reached at email@example.com.