The longtime owner of Boston Cab was arrested Tuesday for several federal crimes related to labor and fraud, the U.S Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Edward J. Tutunjian, who’s owned the taxi company for more than four decades, faces charges of payroll tax evasion, employing undocumented workersand with failing to pay overtime wages. He owned more than 372 taxi medallions by 2014, and was bringing in millions of dollars of revenue each year, mostly in cash.
A 2013 investigation by The Boston Globe estimated Tutunjian owns about one-fifth of the city’s medallions, each worth approximately $600,000.
Tutunjian, 66, of Belmont, owns EJT ManagementInc., through which he ran Boston Cab. EJT is also charged with defrauding the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by enabling EJT employees to obtain federal housing subsidies to which they were not entitled.
The attorney’s office allegesEJT and Tutunjianwere also defrauding the IRS by hiring a number of employees not permitted to work in the country due to their immigration status, and paid them partly or entirely in cash. And when employees worked more than a 40-hour week, Tutunjian would not pay them the required time-and-a-half rate on their paychecks, but rather the regular-time rate in cash.
Tutunjian and EJT have both signed plea agreements to make full restitution for their crimes, totaling more than $1.3 millionto the IRS for taxes, interest and penalties, and nearly $700,000 to employees for unpaid overtime wages.
IRS agents raided Boston Cab headquarters in May 2013 after the Globe investigation found widespread exploitation in the taxi industry.
According to that investigation, Tutunjian, a Jordanian-born mogul, built a business empire with his cab business, parking lots and garages, apartment buildings, high-interest lending schemes and Chilean vineyards. In all, his businesses are estimated to be worth about a quarter-billion dollars.