Former GM Guilty Of Tax Evasion

James Vautar, the former GM of the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, Pa., pleaded guilty July 1 to evading federal taxes from 2004 to 2008. Vautar is expected to be sentenced Oct. 28.

Vautar ran the arena from 1981 until the county hired SMG last year. The details of the probe, conducted by the IRS and the state, are still scarce. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Haines told Johnstown’s Tribune-Democrat that under federal court rules, she could not comment on the case beyond what had been said in the courtroom during the plea hearing.

Vautar reported income of $183,000 over five years when he actually earned $664,000 and underpaid his taxes by more than $100,000. Promoters for two events – a boxing event and a mixed martial arts event – claimed they were cheated out of proceeds. Vautar has not been charged with stealing that money.

However, officials for the county, which owns the War Memorial, heard at the plea hearing that some of Vautar’s allegedly ill-gotten gains may have been from the taxpayers. Cambria’s first assistant district attorney revealed that the county would be getting $183,000 in restitution from Vautar’s assets, according to the Tribune-Democrat.

Haines said that investigators found more than $500,000 in cash deposits in Vautar’s bank account over the five years in question, the paper said. The money was not disclosed or claimed by Vautar in his income tax returns.

Vautar, reportedly realizing he was facing prison time, voluntarily surrendered to start serving time immediately.

Vautar went off the payroll in Sept. 2009 after SMG was hired as facility manager. SMG had been under consideration for months – long before suspicions arose regarding Vautar, according to the Tribune-Democrat.

Approximately $17,000 will be paid to the two promoters.