Yoga to the People scandal: Leaders’ ‘lavish’ lifestyles revealed after tax fraud arrest

Three leaders of defunct national yoga chain “Yoga to The People” have been arrested for alleged tax fraud that federal officials say they used to fund their “lavish lifestyles.”

Prosecutors say that Gregory Gumucio, Michael Anderson, and Haven Soliman ”brought in over $20 million and netted them each substantial sums, permitting them to live lavish lifestyles,” from the business, which branded itself as charitable and donation-funded.

The trio, who were all arrested in Washington State, allegedly did not file individual or business tax returns between 2013 and 2020, or pay income taxes.

US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams, says that the three paid their employees off the books and in cash and failed to provide them with tax paperwork.

Prosecutors detail in a charging document the “lavish lifestyles” that the three allegedly lived.

In 2017 and 2018, Haven Soloman is accused of spending $48,900 on “horse-related fees”, which prosecutors say included “apparent horse shows, a ‘horse lease,’ horse boarding, and horseshoes.”

Between 2015 and 2020, Gregory Gumucio allegedly spent $269,712 on airline tickets with United Airlines, $75,994 on hotels, $39,069 on dining out, $30,541 on Stubhub tickets, $31,261 on a country club, and $15,576 on a health sauna.

Prosecutors say that between 2011 and 2014 he spent $40,640 on Denver Broncos season tickets and visited countries such as Aruba, Bolivia, Japan, Jordan, Thailand, and the Turks and Caicos, among others.

The charging document says that Michael Anderson between 2015 and 2020 spent $100,000 on airline tickets, and travelled to countries such as South Korea, France, Portugal, Morocco, the Maldives, and Vietnam among others.

All three have been charged with five counts of tax evasion, each carrying a maximum penalty of five years, and one count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS, which also carries a maximum penalty of five years.

“The defendants purported to create a donation-based exercise community to make yoga more accessible for their clients, when in reality, they allegedly ran a more than decade-long cash cow that relied on a sophisticated network of tens of millions of dollars in unreported income and free labor to fund the leaders’ lavish lifestyles,” said Thomas Fattorusso, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service.

”Today’s arrests and charges are the opening salvo against this years-long scam and the first step to holding these defendants accountable for their alleged crimes.”

Yoga to The People was started by Gregory Gumucio in New York City in 2006, and eventually expanded to 20 studios around the country before closing down in 2020.

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