Three leaders of a multimillion dollar international yoga network that promoted itself as “Yoga to the People” before closing down amid published reports that it operated like a cult were arrested Wednesday in Washington State for failing to pay federal taxes while they lived lavishly, authorities in New York announced.
A complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court said the donation-based organization generated over $20 million in revenue for a decade while promising that its classes featured no-ego and no glorified teachers because “yoga is for everyone.”
The organization started in the East Village of Manhattan in 2006 before becoming “extremely popular” and spreading elsewhere, with about 20 yoga studios in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland in California, Tempe, Arizona, Orlando, Florida, and cities in Colorado, Washington State, Spain and Israel, the complaint said.
Arrested on charges of tax evasion and conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service were Gregory Gumucio, 61, and Haven Soliman, 33, both of Cathlamet, Washington, along with Michael Anderson, 51, of Bellevue, Washington. It wasn’t immediately clear who would represent them at a court appearance in Washington State. The complaint said Soliman had described herself as Gumucio’s husband in a draft of a 2012 email, but it added that no marriage certificate has been located, though they “are long-term romantic partners.”
Authorities described Gumucio as the founder, principal owner and functional chief executive officer of the organization while Anderson served as a chief financial officer and Soliman was its chief communications officer and director of its Teacher Training Program, which earned substantial income from aspiring yoga teachers.
They said all three claimed their annual incomes were six figures in loan or rental applications from 2013 to 2020, when they filed no individual tax returns.
They said the trio enjoyed extravagant lifestyles, including frequent foreign travel, NFL season tickets, horse lodging, along with expensive meals and clothing.
The complaint said the defendants evaded taxes by failing to create a corporate headquarters or keep corporate books and records and by accepting yoga students’ payments in cash, sometimes collected in tissue boxes passed around during classes, and by paying yoga teachers in cash and “off the books.”
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