Denver Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski greets fans as he leaves Pro Player Stadium in Miami Sunday Jan. 31, 1999, after the Broncos defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-19 in Super Bowl XXXIII. (Denver Post file photo)
Former Denver Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski and his wife owe more than $15 million in back taxes and penalties and have been using their nutrition company to pay for family expenses, the U.S. government alleged in a newly filed complaint.
“Despite timely notice and demand for payment, the Romanowskis have neglected, refused or failed to fully pay the assessments against them,” prosecutors in the U.S. Department of Justice’s tax division wrote in the 18-page complaint, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
The couple owes $15.33 million in taxes for the period between 1998 and 2007, prosecutors allege.
Romanowski’s wife, Julie, and their company, Nutrician 53 Inc., also are named as defendants in the complaint.
Authorities accused the couple of siphoning money from the company’s corporate funds to pay for groceries, medical expenses and rent for themselves and their children.
“By using N53 to pay their personal living expenses and those of their adult children, the Romanowskis have improperly used N53 to thwart the IRS’s collection of the individual income tax assessments at issue in this case,” prosecutors wrote.
The company markets “fat-burning meal replacements” under a photo of the former NFL player holding a football. A collagen product promises customers “beautiful skin, lush hair, strong nails.”
Romanowski did not respond to inquiries Wednesday afternoon.
The fearsome linebacker — known as “Romo” — played six of his 16 NFL seasons in Denver, starting every regular-season game for the Broncos between 1996 and 2001. He starred as a central member of two of the Broncos’ Super Bowl championship teams.
In that span with the Broncos, he also made the Pro Bowl twice and logged 433 total tackles, 23 sacks and 11 interceptions.
Denver made the playoffs four times in his six years and he played in nine of his 26 career postseason games with the franchise.
Originally a third-round pick in the 1988 draft, Romanowski started his career with San Francisco and played six years there, two in Philadelphia, six in Denver and then two at the end of his career for the Oakland Raiders.
He’s a four-time Super Bowl champion.
Romanowski previously has been mired in a variety of legal quagmires.
Douglas County authorities in 2000 charged the Bronco with a variety of fraud and conspiracy counts related to using diet drugs prescribed for his wife and a friend, though he was acquitted in a 2001 trial.
In 2005, he paid $415,000 to an ex-teammate whom he punched in the face during practice.
And a federal judge in 2013 ruled the Romanowskis owed $5 million in back taxes stemming from a horse-breeding scheme. The company, ClassicStar, eventually went bankrupt and its principals were convicted of federal tax fraud.