Three owners of Yoga to the People, a Manhattan-based yoga studio business founded in 2006, have been charged with tax fraud after failing to file tax returns over a seven-year span.
The business brought in $20 million over the years, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which alleges Yoga to the People leaders Gregory Gumucio, Michael Anderson and Haven Soliman haven’t filed corporate or personal tax returns since 2013. Later becoming a nationwide business, the first Yoga to the People studio opened on the Lower East Side with a donation-based payment system and a mantra of “no ego” and “power is for everyone.” The company shuttered its doors in 2020, after allegations arose against founder Gumucio’s abusive treatment of employees.
In order to evade taxes, the defendants accepted payments in cash by passing tissue boxes around classes. A typical day could see the business receive 10 to 20 full tissue boxes, according to the complaint. Teachers were forbidden from counting the cash, which was taken to Gumucio’s apartment and organized during “stacking parties.”
The founder also allegedly lured young women into becoming studio owners and taking on financial risk, despite Gumucio controlling all meaningful business decisions and taking a cut of their proceeds. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the three defendants enjoyed extravagant lifestyles which included expensive foreign flights, NFL season tickets, horse lodging and horseback riding.
“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 IRS agent Thomas Fattorusso in a statement.