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Wyoming's richest man was tax evader

Wyoming's richest man was tax evader


It's no surprise that the Cowboy State is home to a few of the sort of folks that Robin Leach used to squawk about on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."

But have you ever wondered which Wyomingite Leach would squawk about most loudly? Have you ever wondered who the wealthiest Wyomingite is?

Is it an oil baron who made his money via Wyoming's black gold? Is it an entertainment mogul who decided to make Jackson his home? Or is it a man who made millions selling hair dryers and who has recently run afoul with the law?

No, no and yes.

While there is no doubt Wyoming's richest resident would, with his $900 million, qualify for a Robin Leach profile, his current lifestyle does not sound like it's the type of thing that caviar dreams and champagne wishes are made of.

Wyoming's wealthiest resident is Leandro Rizzuto, and he calls the Holy Cow Ranch west of Sheridan home.

However, Rizzuto has recently been living in lesser digs, thanks to a 2002 tax-evasion conviction.

Rizzuto, who ranks as the 340th wealthiest American, is the only Wyomingite to make Forbes' list of the 400 richest people in the United States, according to the Forbes Web site.

He made his millions through Conair, a company the 66-year-old founded with his parents in 1959, according to the National Italian American Foundation Web site.

Conair manufactures hair dryers, foot spas and, for all those 1980s fashionistas out there, hair crimpers.

In 1989, Conair acquired Cuisinart, the company that makes food processors, as well as other kitchen appliances.

Rizzuto stepped down as president and CEO of Conair several years ago.

Despite Rizzuto's vast wealth, it was proven in 2002 that he was not above the law when he pleaded guilty to tax-evasion charges, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Web site.

"From 1989 to 1998, Rizzuto directed an extensive, international kickback scheme involving two companies that assisted Conair in shipping its goods from Hong Kong to the United States," an article on the IRS Web site said.

The $3 million Rizzuto made from the scheme was deposited into Swiss bank accounts and never reported, according to the IRS.

Rizzuto was sentenced to serve three years in a federal penitentiary, an Associated Press story from 2002 stated. He is currently living in a halfway house, according to the Forbes Web site.


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