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January 17, 2019

Friars Club executive director pleads guilty to bogus income taxes

January 9, 2019
Michael Gyure’s plea deal includes a pledge that prosecutors will not ask for a sentence greater than 18 months in prison. (Andy Kropa/Getty Images)

There’s nothing funny about pleading guilty to falsifying income taxes.

The executive director of the Friars Club admitted Tuesday to filing bogus income taxes between 2012 and 2015 following an investigation that prosecutors said revealed the storied comedy destination was in dire financial straits.

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Michael Gyure’s plea agreement includes a pledge that prosecutors will not ask for a sentence greater than 18 months in prison. He failed to declare some $433,000 in income, meaning he owes over $150,000 in taxes to the IRS.

The feds raided the exclusive comedy hangout on E. 55th St. in February 2017.

“While serving as the executive director of a private club in Manhattan, Michael Gyure ripped off the IRS. Gyure’s filing of false tax returns is no laughing matter, and he now awaits sentencing for this crime,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said.

Gyure, 50, admitted that he’d knowingly failed to declare some $273,000 in reimbursements from the Friars Club on tax returns. That money was used to cover the purchase of wine sent to his home, international travel for Gyure and his family and purchases of clothing and groceries, prosecutors said.

The club also reclassified over $160,000 in loans to Gyure as additional compensation.

The move “came at a time when the Club was attempting to address a decrease in revenues and cash management issues,” prosecutors said. In 2015, the Friars Club asked vendors to accept late or reduced payments. In 2015 and 2016 the Club failed to pay “several hundred thousand dollars” in state sales taxes, prosecutors said.

“I was aware there was a tax obligation on my income,” Gyure said in brief remarks to Judge Naomi Buchwald.

“I deeply regret my conduct.”

Gyure and his attorney, Paul Shechtman, declined comment.

The Friars Club was once a destination for New York’s comedy elite and became well known for risqué roasts of Hollywood stars like Jerry Lewis, Hugh Hefner and Betty White. Under Gyure’s leadership, it regained some of its cultural cachet after many years known primarily as a destination for old white men.

In a statement, the club noted that the charges only concerned Gyure.

“The Friars Club appreciates the significant contributions Mr. Gyure has made over the years to our organization. We will have no further comment on this matter as the case proceeds in court,” the club said.

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