Ex-Axium International CEO Charged With Tax Evasion

The former chief executive officer of Axium International Inc., the bankrupt Hollywood payroll-services firm, was indicted for tax evasion, according to a federal prosecutor.

John Visconti, 71, is accused of taking millions of dollars from the company he led and failing to report it to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as income, according to a statement today by Los Angeles U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte.

Visconti, who was arrested yesterday, pleaded not guilty at a federal court arraignment to charges of tax evasion, filing a false tax return and conspiracy, Birotte said. He was freed on $100,000 bond, and a trial is set for July 29.

Once the third-biggest movie payroll services provider, the $1.8 billion business filed for bankruptcy liquidation in 2008.

“For more than two years, Visconti and his co-conspirator took weekly cash payments from Axium that averaged $8,000,” the prosecutor said, citing the indictment. The alleged co-conspirator wasn’t identified.

The CEO and his unnamed ally also allegedly formed a construction company that billed Axium for $570,000 in services while concealing that they were profiting, too. Visconti also arranged to have about half of a purported Axium employee’s $164,000 salary transferred to a bank account set up for the CEO, according to the indictment.

Attorney information for Visconti couldn’t immediately be confirmed. The Axium bankruptcy is still pending.

The criminal case is U.S. v. Visconti, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles). The bankruptcy is In Re Axium International Inc., 08-bk-10277, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in federal court in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net Andrew Dunn, Peter Blumberg

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