A.G. Schneiderman & Tax Commissioner Mattox Announce Indictment Of Cortland County Car Dealership Owner On Felony Tax Charges

Defendant Charged With Failing To Pay More Than $50,000 In Sales Taxes, Tax Fraud, And Repeated Failure To File Personal Income Tax Returns

CORTLAND - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox announced today the indictment of Joseph Fezza, 47, on 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. A Cortland County grand jury charged Fezza with the following crimes: Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, in violation of New York State Penal Law § 155.40 (one count); Criminal Tax Fraud in the Third Degree, a class D felony, in violation of Tax Law § 1804 (two counts); and Repeated Failure to File Personal Income Tax Returns, a class E felony, in violation of Tax Law § 1802(a) (two counts).

“When an unscrupulous business owners neglect to pay their taxes, other hard-working New Yorkers have to shoulder the burden,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Our office will continue to work closely with Commissioner Mattox to prosecute those who break the law and seek to pass the buck to honest taxpayers.”

“Sales tax evasion is theft from customers and taxpayers alike,” said Commissioner Mattox. “We will continue to work with all levels of law enforcement to bring tax criminals to justice and create a level playing field for honest business owners across the state.”

The Honorable Julie A. Campbell arraigned Fezza on the indictment today and maintained his bail conditions. Fezza entered a plea of not guilty to all charges.

The charges against Joseph Fezza are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of five to fifteen years of incarceration.

Fezza is the owner and sole proprietor of JF Auto World, also known as Auto World, located at 991 Tompkins Street, Town of Cortlandville, New York. According to the indictment, Fezza collected but failed to remit to New York State more than $50,000 in sales taxes from on or about March 1, 2004, through on or about September 20, 2009. He also failed to file quarterly sales tax returns as well as several years' worth of personal income tax returns.

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance’s case is supervised by Director of Investigation Christopher Ammirati. The Attorney General thanks the Department for its valuable assistance in this case.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Joshua Vinciguerra of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau of the Attorney General’s Office. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Gary Fishman, Deputy Bureau Chief Stephen Maher, and Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is part of the Criminal Justice Division, led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan. The case is being investigated by OAG Investigator Mitch Paurowski with support from Deputy Chief Investigator Tony Karam.

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