In his first comment after pleading guilty to failing to file federal income tax returns, Omaha City Councilman Vinny Palermo on Tuesday described it as "an administrative matter" and said he won't resign from office.

Palermo, 46, entered guilty pleas Monday for willful failure to file income tax returns for 2012, 2013 and 2014, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Omaha announced.

He admitted in court that he failed to file the returns within the time required, which is a misdemeanor under federal law.

"Absolutely, I will not resign," Palermo said Tuesday before declining to answer further questions.

On Monday, he referred questions to his lawyer,  James Martin Davis, who said Palermo has fixed the mistakes and paid what he owed. He noted that Palermo filed the income tax returns more than two years ago.

Court documents show that Palermo owed taxes on income from his tree-trimming business, Vinny’s Tree Service. Prosecutors say he willfully failed to file tax returns after receiving gross income of $145,434 in 2012, $220,400 in 2013 and $129,612 in 2014, according to court documents.

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Palermo agreed to pay restitution for $21,209 in taxes owed and take responsibility for the mistake, according to the plea agreement.

“I failed to file my tax returns several years ago in a timely manner,” Palermo wrote in his petition for a plea agreement. “They have now been filed.”

Davis said it’s not uncommon for new business owners to have trouble with how to handle tax withholding and quarterly tax payments.

As part of Palermo’s plea agreement, federal prosecutors agreed not to seek additional charges based on whether Palermo filed returns for 2015 and 2016. Davis said he had no indication that those returns were late.

Palermo could spend up to a year in federal prison on each of the three counts, along with fines of up to $100,000, as well as a year of supervised release. Davis said he doesn’t expect Palermo to receive prison time.

“Mr. Palermo should have been more aware of his own financial obligations,” said Karl Stiften, the special agent in charge of the IRS investigation. “This wasn’t an oversight or mistake.”

City Attorney Paul Kratz declined to comment on whether the charges might affect Palermo’s ability to serve on the City Council. Davis said they would not.

Mayor Jean Stothert, reached through a spokeswoman, and Council President Chris Jerram declined to comment on the case.

Palermo, who was elected to the council in 2017, previously served on the Omaha Public Schools board.

He won a three-way primary for his South Omaha council seat, beating Jim Rogers by 45 votes. He is a Democrat on the officially nonpartisan council. The Douglas County Republican Party on Monday called on Palermo to resign.

In his council role, Palermo has sided often with organized labor and city employees and butted heads with Public Works, where he once worked.

He has also sometimes backed Stothert, including on the recent vote to award the city’s next trash contract to FCC Environmental.

Palermo’s sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 9.

World-Herald staff writers Christopher Burbach and Todd Cooper contributed to this report.

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Chris Burbach covers the Douglas County Board, Planning Board and other local government bodies, as well as local neighborhood issues. Follow him on Twitter @chrisburbach. Phone: 402-444-1057.