|Charles Pillitteri at the family winery on June 12, 2008. (QMI Agency File Photo)
A southern Ontario winery CEO said a gambling addiction drove him to commit tax-evasion, which resulted in him being fined more than $120,000.
The Canada Revenue Agency said that Pillitteri Estates Winery executive Charles Pillitteri pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion.
The agency said he didn't report $439,102 in taxes in 2004, representing cash "misappropriated from the company and used for his own personal benefit."
The federal income tax on that came to $122,031, the amount of the fine. The agency said it's since been fully repaid.
Reached in Japan Friday night, Pillitteri said the incident stemmed from a gambling addiction he had at the time.
"I had some major gambling issues," he said adding he's since been to counselling for the problem and hasn't gambled in four years.
"I've moved on," he said. "I'm working my way back to making sure I'm living a clean, gambling-free lifestyle.
"I'm sorry to have done it, now that I look back. Like many addictions, gambling plagues a lot of families and I feel sorry for them because of the heartbreak and because of the difficulty that I placed my family in."
The plea comes more than a year after the winery was fined for another incident of tax evasion.
The winery had to pay back $202,510 in December 2010. An investigation found the income the winery reported for tax purposes was understated by $915,508 in 2005.
Pillitteri said he's remained CEO since and will continue to hold the job.
"We have to face our problems," he said. "I faced mine and I believe I'm cured. I hope I'm cured."
Connie Slingerland, Pillitteri's sister and the winery's president and chief financial officer, said the company has taken internal steps to make sure something similar can't happen again.
"We're actually fortunate that this has all been resolved in a very positive way," he said. "The unfortunate incident is now behind us."