A Conviction for Tax Fraud Marks Fashion's Albert Nipon for Disgrace and Prison
updated 05/20/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/20/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT
The Philadelphia U.S. Attorney has billed the Nipon affair as "one of the largest bribery schemes ever uncovered." It charges that in 1979 and 1980, Nipon wrote off more than $800,000 in improvements on his 6.8-acre estate, Wooden Hill, in an upper class Philadelphia suburb, against his $60-million-a-year fashion business. When tax examiner Meyer Weiss and retired IRS agent Edmond Constantini caught on to the scheme, they took $200,000 in bribes from Nipon to reduce his personal liability from $508,063 to $19,834. The agents paid heavily for their greed: Constantini was fined $100,000 and sentenced to four years in prison, and Weiss awaits sentencing. Nipon's accountant, Leonard Bezark, who pleaded guilty to falsifying his boss' tax returns and bribing a third undercover IRS agent, was sentenced to 18 months and fined $20,000.
With good behavior, Nipon may serve only a year of his sentence, probably at Allenwood Federal Prison Camp. Nipon predicted the business would continue to flourish in his absence. Nipon's wife of 33 years, Pearl, who started the fashion business with him in 1954, handles the design end while all three of their sons, Lawrence, 30, Leon, 27, and Andrew, 25, also hold company positions. (Daughter Barbara Joy, 23, is finishing college.) Before sentencing the shaken fashion king, Judge Broderick praised him generously for his many contributions to charity, then offered the only comfort he could: "You'll be able to survive and become an even greater man than when you go in."