Former Sacramento Man Pleads Guilty to Failing to File Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts

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FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Justice Building is pictured

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Virgil Sever Santa, 49, formerly of Sacramento, pleaded guilty today to failing to file a report of foreign bank and financial accounts (FBAR) with the Department of the Treasury, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, Virgil Santa’s wife, Maria Santa, was convicted of mail fraud in 2013 and was ordered to surrender in early 2014 for service of her prison sentence. In February 2014, Virgil Santa reported to local law enforcement that his wife was missing and had left a note suggesting that she had committed suicide. Despite search efforts, Maria Santa was not found. It was later determined that she had faked her purported suicide and fled the country to avoid going to prison. Documents obtained from the Romanian government confirmed that Maria Santa eventually made her way to Romania.

According to court documents, in December 2014, Virgil Santa opened a foreign bank account at Banca Comerciala Romana S.A., in Romania, over which he had signatory authority. In April 2015, he caused over $50,000 to be wired from the United States to this foreign bank account. Bank records show that, in June 2015, Virgil Santa added his wife to the account so that she was permitted to make withdrawals in Romania. While Maria Santa was hiding in Romania from United States authorities, the couple made significant withdrawals from the account between April and August 2015.

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Because Virgil Santa’s Romanian bank account had a value of over $10,000 in the 2015 calendar year, he was required by law to file an FBAR, in the form of FinCEN Form 114, with the Treasury Department by June 30, 2016. Knowing that he had a duty to file such a report, Santa willfully failed to file an FBAR by the deadline. In 2016, Virgil Santa also filed a U.S. tax return for the 2015 tax year, which also failed to disclose the existence of this foreign account.

In August 2016, federal agents found Maria Santa living as a fugitive with her husband back in Sacramento. She was arrested and eventually pleaded guilty to failing to surrender for service of her prison sentence. On Jan. 24, 2018, she was sentenced to serve a year and a day in prison consecutive to her original 20-month sentence.

This case is the product of an investigation by IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert J. Artuz and Matthew Thuesen are prosecuting the case.

Virgil Santa is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 29, 2022, by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd. Santa faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.