Miccosukee Casino Ripping Off Winners? Gamblers Sue The Tribe For Bingo Taxes
Miami husband-and-wife John Ricone and Francys Tolon-Ricone were apparently wielding a hot blotter when they played bingo at the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming Indian casino in 2008. In two trips that year, they won just under $5,500. When the tribe paid them their winnings, they remitted $1,500 for taxes, just like an employer does.
But the Ricones claim they got a nasty surprise two years after filing their 2008 return. The IRS says the tribe never paid the taxes from their bingo winnings -- and now the couple owes back taxes with interest. They filed suit against the tribe this month.
Kind of makes you wonder: If the Ricones' allegations are true, is the tribe similarly ripping off other winners?
According to the suit, the Ricones won $2,961.66 in February 2008, of which the tribe subtracted $829.26 for federal income taxes. And when they won $2,500 that July, the tribe purportedly set aside $700 for Uncle Sam.
The Ricones have filed their W-2Gs -- returns for gambling winnings -- as evidence in the court case.
In 2010, the IRS informed the Ricones via a letter that they owed $1,621 with interest, because the tribe had not remitted the taxed winnings in its own filings.
The poker-and-slots-rich Micosukees are already embroiled in massive tax trouble. More than 100 members of the tribe owe just under $26 million to the IRS in unpaid taxes from payments from the casino. Former tribal chairman Billy Cypress owes almost $3 million from after spending Miccosukee credit cards to go on a multi-million dollar three-year spending binge.
The tribe is battling the IRS to not turn over its financials on grounds of sovereignty, and has filed lawsuits against its longtime former attorneys Dexter Lehtinen and Guy Lewis, claiming that the lawyers advised them that they didn't have to pay federal taxes.
We've called Miccosukee attorney Bernardo Roman III seeking comment on the Ricones' allegation, but have not yet heard back.
Here's the Ricones' complaint: