Personal Revenge Contributed to ‘Mohan’ Downfall
Renowned ‘tailor to the stars’ Mohan “Mike” Ramchandani — who has provided custom-made men’s suits to such celebrities as former NYC mayors Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani, and a number of sports legends – has been convicted on tax evasion charges stemming from his failure to pay close to $3 million in sales, personal and corporate taxes. The Indian-born high-end tailor, scheduled to be sentenced on September 18, will likely get one to three years in jail.
“I made several mistakes with regard to the payment of taxes and I take full responsibility for my actions,” the tax-averse tailor said in a written public statement.
Since 2007, Ramchandani has been delinquent in paying $1.7 million in sales tax, $864,000 in corporate income tax, and $250,000 in personal income tax, as outlined in the charges lodged against him by NY State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Ramchandani pleaded guilty to felony filing of false tax documents and falsifying business records, and owes the government a total of $5.5 million. He has already paid $750,000, and has agreed to cover the remaining amount within 24 months, according to his attorney.
Ramchandani, whose Mohan’s Custom Tailors is located across from Grand Central Terminal on East 42nd Street, also faces related federal charges for neglecting to pay federal income tax, authorities have disclosed.
In an ironic twist to the case, the famous tailor apparently received his comeuppance as a result of his own aggressive and greedy actions, which ultimately made him a victim of personal revenge.
Ramchandani’s former apprentice, Vijay Tharwani, was imprisoned for one year on false charges he claims were fabricated by his boss. “I just want him to feel how it feels when someone rats you out, when you lose your money and you end up behind bars,” Tharwani declared.
The 66-year-old Ramchandani and 33-year-old Tharwani had forged a close relationship after the master tailor took in the teenage immigrant and taught him the trade at Mohan’s Custom Tailors. But the young man’s success sparked the jealousy of his mentor’s son, and when Tharwani gave Ramchandani serious competition with his own Midtown custom suit store, the son threatened to have Tharwani deported.
In January of 2009, Tharwani found himself arrested on suspicion of having entered into a phony green-card marriage, and he was convinced that his former boss had given the authorities false evidence about the nuptials. Tharwani ended up spending ten months in prison, but a trial exonerated him and he was released to freedom.
Unfortunately, the upstart’s business was in serious decline by that time, and he found it exceedingly difficult to rebuild. “Mohan called up the suppliers in Hong Kong and he warned them that if they continue doing business with me, he will stop doing business with them,” Tharwani insisted. To add insult to injury, online reviews of Custom Men began “mysteriously” appearing. “They kept on harassing me, day in and day out,” he said. “That’s when I thought, ‘Enough is enough.’ ”
Deciding to take action, Tharwani contacted Thane Rosenbaum, and told the prestigious immigration lawyer – providing ample backup evidence – that Ramchandani was cheating on his taxes. Pleading guilty, Ramchandani admitted accumulating $28 million in sales from 2002 to 2012, but only reporting $5.6 million.
Through a representative, the celebrity tailor expressed his sense of betrayal at the hands of his protégé. As for Tharwani, in addition to getting the satisfaction of revenge, he earned a $1.1 million “whistleblower” reward, which will help him pay down his debts.
Mohan’s Custom Tailors has endeared itself to the Jewish community in the past. A few years ago, it became aware of the Orthodox Jewish adherence to shatnez, the Torah’s law prohibiting the wearing of clothing that contains a mixture of wool and linen. Accordingly, Mohan’s began offering a line of custom-made suits that are pre-tested and certified as being totally free of shatnez.
“We have a lot of Orthodox Jewish customers,” explained KJ Singh, sales manager at Mohan’s. “We told them we can make a kosher suit for them.”
According to religious experts in the field, the forbidden mixture is most commonly found in the collars and breast pockets of men’s suits, as the original tailor may have sewn or glued linen canvas in them to help them maintain their shape. So Mohan’s procured a substitute fabric at a Delancey Street store. “We found a special canvas without linen, with the same properties as linen,” Singh said.
At the time, one prominent member of the Jewish community expressed his appreciation for Mohan’s accommodation to his religious needs. “If I knew I could walk out of the store and wear the suit, it would save me time, money and inconvenience,” said Rabbi Yosef Blau, who serves as a senior spiritual advisor at Yeshiva University.
Personal Quote: “I made several mistakes with regard to the payment of taxes and I take full responsibility for my actions.”