Love it or hate it, reality TV is a significant part of our entertainment culture. Some reality stars achieve celebrity status, while others are quickly forgotten the moment their show is cancelled. In the case of Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino, from MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” we bet he wishes he’d been one of the forgotten, at least by the IRS.
In 2014, Michael Sorrentino and his brother Marc Sorrentino were indicted for tax offenses, including conspiracy, filing false tax returns, and failing to file tax returns between 2010 and 2012. During this time, “Jersey Shore” was airing, and Michael earned a reported $150,000 per episode of the series’ three-season run, which amassed to a total of $8.9 million. This past April, a superseding indictment returned with additional charges against the brothers.
Banking on Michael’s reality-TV fame, the Sorrentino brothers opened a number of businesses, including Situation Nation Inc. and MPS Entertainment LLC. When filing taxes for their companies, the charges state Michael and Marc would claim fraudulent business deductions, underreport net business income, disguise income payment, and understate gross receipts. Additionally, to avoid triggering banks’ reporting requirements on deposits of over $10,000, Michael would make several cash deposits of amounts less than $10,000 on the same day to different bank accounts. Marc Sorrentino is also accused of altering record books that had been subpoenaed by a grand jury.
Michael and Marc both pled not guilty to these charges. The press release from the IRS states that, if convicted, the brothers both face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy and three years for each count of “aiding in the preparation of false tax returns.” Marc also faces a potential 20-year sentence for obstruction, while Michael himself could serve an additional 10 years for each structuring count and five years for tax evasions.
Someone should have told “The Situation” that while reality TV might be fake, the repercussions of trying to deceive the IRS are very Real.