NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A former star of the MTV reality show "Jersey Shore" and his brother filed bogus tax returns on nearly $9 million and claimed millions in business expenses — including luxury vehicles and clothing — that were actually for personal use, according to an indictment released Wednesday.
Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and his brother Marc pleaded not guilty through their attorneys during a brief initial appearance in U.S. District Court. Neither made any statements during or after the proceeding, though when Mike Sorrentino was asked outside the courthouse if he was innocent he smiled and replied, "Of course."
Each brother was released on $250,000 bail and scheduled for arraignment on Oct. 6.
According to the seven-count indictment, the Sorrentinos earned about $8.9 million between 2010 and 2012, mostly through two companies they controlled, MPS Entertainment and Situation Nation. They allegedly filed false documents that understated the income from the businesses as well as their personal income. Mike Sorrentino also is charged with failing to file taxes for 2011, a year in which he earned nearly $2 million.
The brothers also allegedly spent millions of dollars on personal expenses they claimed were for business In 2012, for example, the brothers filed documents with an unnamed accounting firm in Staten Island that claimed $3.9 million in business expenses, according to the indictment released by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.
Both brothers are charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, which is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of five years upon conviction.
Marc Sorrentino faces three counts of filing false returns from 2010 to 2012 and Mike Sorrentino is charged with two counts, in addition to one count of failing to file taxes for 2011. The conspiracy is alleged to have run from early 2010 to late 2013 in Monmouth and Ocean counties in New Jersey.
The false filing counts carry maximum potential prison sentences of three years; failure to file carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison.
"Rather than living in reality and reporting their true income, Michael Sorrentino and his brother Marc created the illusion that they earned less income by filing false and fraudulent tax returns," said Jonathan D. Larsen, head of IRS-Criminal Investigation, Newark.
Christopher Adams, an attorney for Marc Sorrentino, blasted the government's case.
"He has spent the better part of a year trying to show them flaws in their theory, and it is unfortunate that the government has chosen to rely on the word of a disgraced accountant who is a proven liar," Adams told The Associated Press in an email.
Richard Sapinski, an attorney representing Mike Sorrentino, didn't comment after the hearing and didn't return a message seeking comment.
The cast of the MTV reality show were known for their rowdy lifestyle that occasionally led to legal scrapes. In July, Mike Sorrentino agreed to take anger management classes to resolve assault charges stemming from a July 15 fight with his brother at their family's tanning salon.