Owner of N.J. pharmacies found guilty in cash-skimming tax fraud scheme


A federal jury deliberated for less than four hours on Monday before finding the owner of several pharmacies in New Jersey and New York guilty of conspiring with a pharmacist he employed to defraud the IRS.

Rao Desu, 52, of Warren, was convicted in U.S. District Court in Trenton of two counts of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and four counts of aiding and assisting in subscribing to false tax returns, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.

Desu owned several pharmacies, and was a 50 percent owner of Heights Pharmacy in Piscataway, Carpenito said. Darshna Desai was the other 50 percent owner and worked as the lead pharmacist, Carpenito said.

“From April 2004 through November 2013, Desu conspired with Desai to conceal from the IRS the cash income that was earned by the pharmacy as part of a cash-skimming scheme,” Carpenito said in a statement.

Carpenito said Desai and Desu divided and concealed cash received through the business and then filed false corporate income tax returns. Desu committed similar crimes at a pharmacy he owned in The Bronx, according to Carpenito.

“For tax years 2004 through 2012, Desu and Desai filed false corporate income tax returns, (and) failed to disclose the cash that Desai received in salary and that was split between Desu and Desai,” Carpenito said.

Desai pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the IRS in 2014. Her sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 26, 2020.

Sentencing for Desu will be set at a later date, Carpenito said.

Carpenito said the conspiracy charge carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The false tax return charge carries a maximum of three years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at tattrino@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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