2015-08-12 / Features

OWNER OF QUEENS AUTO BODY SHOP CHARGED WITH TAX FRAUD

Defendant Allegedly Pocketed $125,000 Owed to the City and State

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, joined by New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Jerry Boone, today announced that an Ozone Park auto body repair shop and its owner have been charged with criminal tax fraud, grand larceny and other charges for allegedly stealing more than $125,000 in collected taxes that were owed to New York State and local municipalities.

District Attorney Brown said, “Sales taxes are meant for the public treasury – not the pockets of business owners. By purposefully defrauding the state and local government out of these funds – that could have been used in the public interest – the money instead allegedly lined the pocketbook of this businesswoman. This kind of tax fraud makes every New Yorker a victim.”

“When an auto body shop, or any business, fails to remit sales tax to the state it has committed a serious crime – with serious consequences,” said Commissioner Jerry Boone. “That’s why we commend District Attorney Brown’s effort to make such tax evaders answer for their crimes.”

District Attorney Brown identified the defendants as Stephanie Davino, 31, of Howard Beach, Queens, and her business, A&W Auto Collision Center, Inc., located at 104-11 101st Street in Ozone Park, Queens. Davino was arraigned earlier this week before Queens Criminal Court Judge Ernest Hart on a criminal complaint charging her and the business with second-, third- and fourth-degree criminal tax fraud, second- and third-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud and fifth-degree conspiracy. Davino, who faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, was released on her own recognizance and ordered to return to court on September 30, 2015. In the case of a corporation, conviction of a felony is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or double the amount of the illegal gain.

According to the criminal complaint, said District Attorney Brown, Davino, who is listed as the owner and president of A&W Collision on tax and finance records, failed to file a single sales tax return between January 26, 2012, and March 3, 2014. However, during that period of time, the auto body shop allegedly performed repairs totaling approximately $1.4 million and received payment for the repairs from GEICO, State Farm, Allstate, Progressive and USAA insurance companies. The total amount of sales tax allegedly due and owing to the city and state amounts to approximately $125,700 ($61,965 to New York State and $63,735 to local municipalities).

The investigation was conducted by the Criminal Investigation Division of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance; Detective Sergeant Elizabeth A. Curcio and Detectives Jeffrey A. Boyce, Joseph T. Brancaccio, John J. Keeley, David I. Joglar and John R. Warner of the District Attorney’s Detective Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator Robert J. Burke and Chief Investigator Franco Russo; and by Queens District Attorney Accountant Investigator Joseph D. Plonski with the assistance of Accountant Investigators John M. Murphy and Silvana T. Sutich and Financial Analyst Andrew W. Risi, all under the supervision of James J. Dever, Chief Staff Accountant.

Assistant District Attorney Andrew H. Kaufman, Chief of the District Attorney’s Crimes Against Revenue Unit, is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Anthony M. Communiello, Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Special Proceedings Bureau, and Oscar W. Ruiz, Deputy Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Linda M. Cantoni.

It should be noted that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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