2012-12-26 / Front Page

Charge Woodside Auto Dealer In Finance Scheme

By Liz Goff

The owners of a Woodside car dealership were charged last week with illegally withholding approximately $730,000 in state and local taxes, while a former finance manager at the dealership allegedly defrauded customers out of $115,000 in cash through a fake refinancing scheme, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Hooshmand “Danny” Kohanano, 54, and his wife, Fereshteh “Jenny” Kohanano, 41, of Great Neck, owners of the Auto Palace used car dealership at 53-22 Northern Blvd. in Woodside, were arraigned on December 4 in Queens Criminal Court on charges stemming from the alleged theft, Brown said.
Julio Estrada, aka Jay Torres, 37, of Hackettstown, N.J., former finance manager of Auto Palace, was indicted last week by a Queens grand jury for defrauding customers at the dealership.
“Tax fraud is the type of crime that makes every New Yorker a victim by cheating the government and the public out of money that is especially needed during this continuing economic downturn,” Brown said in a prepared statement.
The DA said investigators determined that after multiple car sales conducted between Sept. 1, 2006 and Nov. 30, 2009, the Kohananos allegedly withheld more than $730,000 in state and local taxes they charged to customers and failed to forward to New York state.
The discrepancies were revealed in a January 2012 review of the dealership’s records, Brown said. The records were obtained with a court-ordered search warrant, Brown said.
The review also disclosed that Estrada allegedly bilked 23 customers out of a total of $115,000, Brown said.
Estrada allegedly told the victims they could refinance loans after six months of on-time payments, but would then ask them for a fee or down payment ranging from $1,000 to $13,000. Estrada failed to refinance the loans after the victims shelled out the additional payments, Brown said.
The Kohananos were each charged with three counts of grand larceny, criminal tax fraud, grand larceny, 26 counts of falsifying business records, 26 counts of offering a false instrument and two counts of scheme to defraud.
If convicted, the couple is facing 25 years in prison and in the case of a corporation, a felony is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or double the amount of the illegal
gain.
Estrada is charged with 23 counts of grand larceny, 15 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, 23 counts of criminal possession of stolen property, 18 counts of identity theft and one count of scheme to defraud.
He is facing up to seven years in prison, if convicted.
The Kohananos were released without bail at their arraignment and are due back in court on January 9, Brown said.
The investigation was conducted through the Queens County DA’s office in conjunction with the state Department of Taxation and Finance and the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

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