A federal tax bill is adding up to what appears to be nearly $6.7 million for John Vratsinas and the employee management companies that he created, and which operate under a variety of names.
In addition to $3.8 million in Internal Revenue Service liens reported in the the Oct. 12 Business Record, liens totaling another $2.9 million tax have been filed against one of the companies.
However, Christopher James, an attorney with Davis Brown Law Firm who is representing Vratsinas and his companies in the tax case, disputed the $6.7 million figure, saying it could represent liens that have been carried forward and included in later filings. The numbers also do not reflect payments that have been made to date to reduce the balance, he said.
Also this week, one of the businesses that hired a Vratsinas company to handle its payroll, filed a police report in West Des Moines. alleging criminal theft charges are warranted.
Unraveling the story involves seeing the relationships of several companies, all owned by Vratsinas, that are being sued by the IRS. The companies, like the tax debt, can appear to be a moving target.
To the public, the company was InFocus Partners, which offered varying degrees of human resources services, primarily to businesses of eight to 10 employees. It is estimated that the West Des Moines company processes payroll, manages benefits and provides other services for 900 workers, most of them in Iowa.
In the background, InFocus Partners' parent company is Iowa Construction Logistics Inc., created in 2001 to lease employees to John Vratsinas Commercial Contractors Inc. Vratsinas owned both companies. The construction company has changed names and, for the most part, is defunct after having a financial reorganization plan in federal bankruptcy court in June 2009.
In 2008, Iowa Construction Logistics spun off a company called ICL Staffing LLC, and expanded services from leasing employees to the construction industry to handling human resources for a broad range of businesses.
In December 2011, Vratsinas created ICL Staffing Inc. and registered it in the state of Delaware. At the time, InFocus partners experienced a division of labor of sorts, with its payroll services handled by ICL Staffing LLC and ICL Staffing Inc. acting as a professional employer organization that offered a full range of human resources services.
Whatever the name, the companies and Vratsinas racked up federal tax liens that resulted from failure to make payroll tax payments that it had collected from its clients.
Vratsinas, as an individual, faces about $2 million in penalties that are levied against the "responsible" person who controls the payment of withholding tax deductions to the federal government.
Iowa Construction Logistics owes $619,155 in unpaid withholding taxes, according to court records.
ICL Staffing LLC owes the federal government nearly $2.9 million for withholding taxes that should have been paid between September 2009 and October of this year. The company began processing payroll taxes only this year, after ICL Staffing Inc. was created.
ICL Staffing Inc. owes nearly $1.2 million in withholding taxes that were due in March and June of this year.
Greater Des Moines businesses learned that they faced potential liability for taxes they thought had been paid by the many faces of InFocus when they were contacted recently by the Internal Revenue Service.
William Smith, an attorney representing a Des Moines excavating company that was contacted by the IRS, said it is difficult to tell exactly how much of his client's taxes have been paid.
Priority Excavating paid about $850,000 to InFocus to cover its payroll costs. The ecavating company claims in a West Des Moines police report filed by its owner that it has been the victim of a major theft.
Smith said he would be happy just to have the tax bill paid, and InFocus attorney James said that taxes due from the ICL Staffing Inc. arm of InFocus will be paid by the middle of next week.
In late 2011, Vrastinas assigned new titles to InFocus staff, naming Charles Ganske, who went to work as a salesman for the company in 2009, as president.
Ganske and other staff quit the company two weeks ago. Ganske declined comment and the Business Record has not been able to reach Vratsinas for comment.
Nonetheless, in late 2011, InFocus moved from its offices at 5930 Grand Ave. in West Des Moines, where business acquaintances have said Vratsinas had the "Taj Mahal" of executive sites, to offices across a parking lot at 5950 Grand Ave.
Vratsinas' construction company developed the business park. The building at 5930 Grand sold in January for nearly $4.4 million to Wright Service Corp. The deed was signed by Vratsinas' father, Gus, who founded a Little Rock, Ark., construction company that was the general contractor for Jordan Creek Town Center.
Vratsinas' home in West Des Moines is listed for sale for $1.3 million.
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