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The operator of Tony’s Pizza House, above, is sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for tax evasion.
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The operator of Tony’s Pizza House, above, is sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for tax evasion.

Taney County pizza shop owner sentenced for tax evasion

Posted online

The operator of Taney County restaurant Tony’s Pizza House was sentenced in federal court this week for tax evasion.

Tony Cowden, 63, of Protem, was ordered on Jan. 8 to serve 18 months in federal prison without parole, as well as pay restitution, according to a news release from the office of Timothy Garrison, interim U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Cowden pleaded guilty in August to five counts of income tax evasion. He admitted he conspired to conceal taxable income from the IRS between April 2008 and January 2015.

Cowden’s crimes became known after he listed his Protem business and property for sale in 2015. Two undercover IRS-Criminal Investigation agents posed as potential buyers and met with Cowden. During the meeting, Cowden told the agents he didn’t have the necessary documents to substantiate the $599,000 asking price, but noted, “it saves me a lot of taxes.” He also told the agents he “pockets” cash from the sale of Keno tickets and in-restaurant arcade games, according to the release.

Further, Cowden encouraged his customers to pay in cash by offering discounts on cash payments, according to Garrison’s office.

Losses to the federal and state governments totaled $138,527 over the five-year period. Under the sentencing order, Cowden is required to pay full restitution and another $29,581 to the U.S. Social Security Administration for Social Security payments he was not entitled to receive, according to the release.

The Protem restaurant — located about 42 miles southeast of Branson — maintains its Facebook page and website. The website lists the owner/operator as Dawn Cowden. However, a phone call to the restaurant went unanswered this morning.


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I believe this is the same Tony who ran a questionable eating establishment in Springfield (along National, across from MSU) and closed about three years ago after a kitchen fire. That restaurant, too, had Keno and arcade-like games (Pac-Man, etc.).

Wednesday, January 10, 2018
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