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Pearl Arts Owner Faces Tax Charges

April 14, 1999

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ The owner of an art-supply chain with stores in six states was indicted Tuesday on charges he skimmed millions of dollars used to build one of the most opulent homes in South Florida.

Robert Perlmutter was charged with filing false income tax returns between 1992 and 1995.

Perlmutter allegedly took up to $10,000 a day of unreported income out of his stores.

A manager at Pearl’s headquarters in Fort Lauderdale said there would be no comment from Perlmutter.

The alleged skimming began in 1983 and netted Perlmutter $1.2 million tax-free a year, according to prosecutors.

Federal investigators started looking into Perlmutter three years ago after a package sent to him from a store manager implicated in the scheme broke open during delivery, spilling $25,000 in cash.

Perlmutter and the manager of the East Meadow, N.Y., store, Allan Jacobowitz, were charged with conspiring to impede the collection and assessment of federal income and employment taxes.

The maximum sentence for the charges is 17 years in prison.

Perlmutter allegedly used the money to build one of the largest houses in Broward County, a 22,000-square-foot mansion with 19 bathrooms and 12 bedrooms in suburban Weston.

He is also charged with enticing contractors to take cash for work and not report the income to the Internal Revenue Service. Eight contractors were charged with tax evasion as well.

Pearl Arts and Crafts operates several stores in Florida, New York and New Jersey and has outlets in Chicago, Houston, Atlanta and in the Washington, D.C., area.

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