CORTLAND, N.Y. —The owner of JF Auto World, Joseph Fezza, pled guilty last week to five felony charges stemming from his collection and retention of sales taxes on vehicles he sold over a period of more than five years, and his failure to file sales tax and personal income tax returns.
“With Tax Day around the corner, today’s conviction shows that my office has no tolerance for business owners who cheat on their taxes,” New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a release about Fezza’s conviction. “When an unscrupulous few fail to pay their taxes, other hardworking New Yorkers have to shoulder the burden. If you rip off honest taxpayers, you will face time in prison.”
Fezza, 47, of Cortland, pleaded guilty to the five-count indictment lodged against him in Cortland County Court before the Honorable Julie A. Campbell, including one count of grand larceny in the second degree (a class C felony), two counts of criminal tax fraud in the third degree (a class D felony), and two counts of repeated failure to file personal income tax returns (a class E felony).
In exchange for his plea, Justice Campbell promised Fezza a sentence of up to one year in jail. Fezza is required to pay $50,000 in restitution on or before the date of his sentence. The balance of the restitution will either be agreed upon by the parties by June 15, 2015, or the court will hold a restitution hearing on the matter.
Fezza’s sentencing is scheduled before Justice Campbell on October 1, 2015.
According to the indictment and statements made by prosecutors, Fezza, in his position as the owner and sole proprietor of JF Auto World, also known as Auto World, collected more than $175,000 in sales taxes from consumers between March 1, 2004 through September 20, 2009, but failed to remit those taxes to New York State. Fezza also failed to file quarterly sales tax returns, as well as several years' worth of personal income tax returns during this period.
The case stems from an investigation initiated in 2011 by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau.