Local contractor pleads guilty in tax evasion, wage theft case
Bonifacio Gallegos ordered to pay $31,502 in restitution
EAGLE — Bonifacio Dean Gallegos, a local contractor, pleaded guilty to one felony charge of tax evasion and one felony charge of theft from a person for not paying undocumented immigrants wages he owed them for work Wednesday in Eagle County District Court.
Gallegos, 48, of Eagle, the owner of B.G. Custom Painting and Lag Custom Finishes, faced six charges of tax evasion and two charges of theft from a person, all class 5 felonies punishable by up to three years in prison, according to court records.
The 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office started investigating Gallegos after two employees or independent contractors, both undocumented immigrants, complained that Gallegos had not paid them for work they completed for him. Colorado Department of Revenue also investigated Gallegos and his businesses and found he had not filed state income tax returns or paid state income taxes from 2013 through 2018.
Under a plea agreement, Gallegos pleaded guilty to two of the felony charges. He was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $28,102 plus 8% interest in restitution to the Colorado Department of Revenue for unpaid state income taxes and a total of $3,400 to the two undocumented workers.
Prosecutors did not request prison or jail time as part of the plea agreement with Gallegos, leaving that up to District Court Judge Paul R. Dunkelman to decide.
Gallegos’ defense attorney, James Merson, described Gallegos as “a hardworking man and small business owner” with a wife and children who depend on him for financial support, adding that Gallegos now has someone managing the books for his businesses and believes he can pay the full restitution within one year. He asked for no jail time for his client.
“Mr. Gallegos obviously admits he broke the law, and he takes responsibility for that,” Merson told the court.
A distraught and tearful Gallegos apologized before he was sentenced, appearing via video conference before Judge Dunkelman.
“I am deeply sorry, deeply apologetic. It’s been rough for me,” Gallegos said. “I’ve failed my community, my family, and I sincerely apologize for all of this. And I will work to try to get this resolved as soon as possible, not only for my community, but for my family.”
Dunkelman sentenced Gallegos to 90 days in jail, but suspended that jail time if Gallegos makes a $7,000 payment toward his full restitution within one week — something Gallegos and his attorney said he will be able to do.
Reached for comment after the hearing, District Attorney Bruce Brown said he thinks Gallegos got a lenient sentence. He said Gallegos and other contractors not paying wages owed to undocumented immigrant workers “raises his hackles” and is something that probably happens all too often in the valley.
“I hope that Mr. Gallegos, if he continues in this line of work, becomes an honest man, because he isn’t, he’s a cheat, and I hope it’s a warning to other contractors out there. There’s plenty who do good, honest work and treat their employees well, but for those who don’t, you will be charged with a felony and convicted,” Brown said. “My hope is that there will be jail consequences the next time around for people who engage in cheating the vulnerable among us.”
Tom Lotshaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.