South Bay contractor gets prison for tax evasion

SAN DIEGO — A Chula Vista contractor who admitted to evading more than $150,000 in income tax over three years was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in federal prison.

Raul Casillas, 55, conceded in a plea agreement that he failed to file federal income tax returns for 2008, 2009 and 2010, when he received more than $2.2 million in gross receipts from his business.

Casillas — who previously had been convicted of felony elder abuse and contracting without a license — sought to skirt his tax obligations by conducting business in cash and by depositing money into bank accounts opened in his wife’s name or on behalf of entities under his control, according to prosecutors.

In handing down Casillas’ punishment in a San Diego courtroom, U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia also ordered him to pay restitution of about $187,500, plus interest.

Tax evasion “results in an increasing burden on honest taxpayers who pay their fair share of income tax,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said.

“Today’s sentence sends a message to the public that if you attempt to evade tax by hiding or disguising your income, the government will prosecute you, and the punishment could be severe,” Duffy said.