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Post date: March 19 2015

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Guilty Plea For Cortland County Car Dealership Owner On Felony Tax Charges

Defendant Pleads Guilty To Indictment Charging Failure To Pay More Than $175,000 In Sales Taxes

Joseph Fezza To Be Sentenced To Up To One Year In Jail And Pay Restitution

Schneiderman: With Tax Day Around The Corner, Today’s Conviction Shows We Have No Tolerance For Business Owners Who Fail To Pay Taxes

CORTLAND – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the conviction of Joseph Fezza, the owner of a car dealership in Cortlandville, 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.

“With Tax Day around the corner, today’s conviction shows that my office has no tolerance for business owners who cheat on their taxes,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “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, located at 991 Tompkins Street, Town of Cortlandville, New York, 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.

The Attorney General thanks the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance for their valuable assistance in the case.

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance’s case is supervised by Director of Investigations Michael Szrama. 

The investigation was conducted by Investigator Mitch Paurowski and Deputy Chief Investigator Tony Karam. The Investigations Division is led by Chief Investigator Dominick Zarrella.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Joshua Vinciguerra of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Gary T. Fishman and Deputy Bureau Chiefs Stephanie Swenton and Meryl Lutsky. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.