Attorney General James and Acting Tax Commissioner Hiller Announce Convictions of Nassau County Collision Repair Shops and Owner for Tax Fraud
Defendants Cardona, No Limit Auto Body, and Henry Street Auto Body Stole More Than $700,000 in Sales Tax
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James and Acting New York Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Amanda Hiller today announced the sentencing of Jose Cardona, 45, of Oceanside, for felony Tax Fraud related to his ownership and operation of two Nassau County collision repair shops. Today, in Nassau County State Supreme Court, Cardona was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation, after having already paid more than $700,000 in restitution. Cardona’s two businesses previously pleaded guilty to felony Tax Fraud charges, and his wife — Veronica Cardona, 44, also of Oceanside — previously pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor False Filing charge related to a fraudulent personal income tax return.
“When individuals and businesses line their pockets with tax money, they steal services and resources from New Yorkers,” said Attorney General James. “Jose Cardona and his businesses took advantage of taxpayers and tried to cheat our state out of over half a million dollars. I thank DTF and Acting Commissioner Hiller for their partnership and coordination to address this crime and carry out justice. My office will continue to protect New York taxpayers and ensure public resources are used for their intended purposes.”
“By fraudulently disregarding his tax obligations, Mr. Cardona violated the trust of his customers, deprived his own community of revenue needed for vital programs and services, and put other businesses at a competitive disadvantage,” said Acting Commissioner Hiller. “I thank the attorney general for her work on this case. We’ll continue to work with all levels of law enforcement to bring tax criminals to justice.”
Jose Cardona was the owner and operator of two collision centers: No Limit Auto Body, Inc., also known as Perry’s Hub Auto Care — located at 10 Jerusalem Avenue in Hempstead, NY — and Henry Street Auto Body, Inc., also known as No Limit Auto Body II — located at 110 Henry Street in Freeport, NY. A joint investigation by the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Auto Insurance Fraud Unit and the Department of Taxation and Finance (Tax Department) revealed that Cardona and No Limit Auto Body collected but failed to remit to New York state over $584,000 in sales taxes between June 2010 and May 2016, and that Cardona and Henry Street Auto Body collected but failed to remit over $117,000 in sales tax between June 2011 and November 2015.
Cardona previously pleaded guilty to one count each of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Third Degree (a Class D Felony) and Criminal Tax Fraud in the Fourth Degree (a Class E Felony). Pursuant to his pleas, Cardona paid more than $700,000 in restitution to the Tax Department prior to being sentenced. Today, before Acting Supreme Court Justice Meryl J. Berkowitz, Cardona was sentenced to six months in jail, followed by five years of probation.
In addition to sales tax fraud, Cardona and his wife were both charged with filing a false personal income tax return for 2011 and failing to file personal income tax returns for 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 — thereby underpaying over $204,000 in personal income taxes.
Additionally, prosecutors previously charged No Limit employee Peter Bifolco with Felony Insurance Fraud for adding additional damage to a car brought to the shop and then billing more than $3,000 in unnecessary repairs.
Veronica Cardona, Bifolco, and Cardona’s two businesses previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced before Acting Supreme Court Justice Berkowitz in Nassau County. Henry Street Auto Body pleaded guilty to one count of Tax Fraud in the Fourth Degree, and No Limit Auto Body pleaded guilty to one count of Tax Fraud in the Fourth Degree and one count of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (a Class E Felony). Veronica Cardona pleaded guilty to one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the Second Degree (a Class A Misdemeanor), and Bifolco pleaded guilty to one count of Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree (a Class A Misdemeanor). The defendants were previously sentenced to a conditional discharge.
This case was investigated by the Tax Department’s Criminal Investigations Division, and then referred to OAG for further investigation and prosecution.
The OAG thanks the Tax Department, New York State Department of Financial Services, National Insurance Crime Bureau, and GEICO Insurance for their valuable assistance in this investigation.
This case was investigated by Detectives Joseph Buffolino and Michael McNally, under the direction of Acting Detective Supervisor William Carbone, Assistant Chief Sam Scotellaro, and Deputy Chief Juanita Bright of the Major Investigations Unit. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Investigator Oliver Pu-Folkes. This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Hugh L. McLean of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau (CEFC), with the assistance of Supervising Legal Analyst Paul Strocko. Forensic accounting work was provided by Senior Auditor Dmitry Temis of the Forensic Audit Section, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Auditor Sandy Bizzarro. CEFC is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph G. D’Arrigo. Both CEFC and the Investigations Bureau are part of the Division for Criminal Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.