Buffalo Merchant Pleads Guilty Of Sales Tax Larceny

ttorney General Spitzer and State Department of Taxation and Finance Commissioner Arthur Roth today announced the guilty plea of a Buffalo liquor store owner for failing to pay state sales tax.

William Mackiewicz, 53, of 617 Richmond Avenue, Buffalo, who owns and operates Frontier Liquor and Beverage at 121 Grant Street in Buffalo, pleaded guilty today before Erie County Supreme Court Justice Nelson H. Cosgrove to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class "D" felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison . He will be sentenced April 11, 2003.

"The vast majority of New York business owners comply with state laws and regulations," said Attorney General Spitzer. "My office will continue to work with the Department of Taxation and Finance to investigate and prosecute business owners who fail to comply."

State Taxation and Finance Commissioner Roth said: "Working with prosecutors across the state, we will aggressively track down tax cheats and bring them to justice."

An audit conducted by the Tax Department revealed that between March 1997 and February 2000, Mackiewicz engaged in a continuous pattern of fraudulent conduct by filing false New York State sales tax returns in which he substantially under-reported the taxable sales at Frontier Liquor and Beverage. The criminal investigation and audit determined that Mackiewicz stole $286,527.31 in New York State sales tax trust funds by collecting and failing to report an additional $4,597,894 in taxable sales.

Mackiewicz has already paid the State more than $240,000 in restitution.

After conducting its audit and investigation, the Department of Taxation and Finance referred the Mackiewicz case to the Attorney General's Office for prosecution.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Russell Ippolito Jr. of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau. Department of Taxation staffers who worked on the case include Investigator John Costello and Auditor David Gehring of the Revenue Crimes Bureau.