NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James and Acting New York Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Amanda Hiller today announced the conviction of Brooklyn-based gas station Verrazano Enterprises, Inc. for Grand Larceny, stemming from the theft of over $244,000 in sales tax in connection with the sale of motor fuel. Gas station owner Muhammad Adrees also pleaded guilty to Criminal Solicitation. As part of their pleas, Verrazano and Adrees collectively paid over $189,000 in restitution and executed a confession of judgment for the entire amount that was stolen from New York state.
“While this gas station may have stolen from New York state to fill up its own bank accounts, our prosecution pumped the brakes on Verrazano’s illegal operation,” said Attorney General James. “Any company that attempts to defraud New York state will find there’s no getaway car waiting, because our office will not hesitate to use every tool at our disposal to stop these bad actors dead in their tracks. I want to thank Acting Commissioner Hiller for her partnership and her department’s important work in protecting New York taxpayers.”
“The gas station blatantly disregarded an obligation to report millions in taxable sales and to pay sales tax owed — violating the trust of customers, depriving Brooklyn of revenue for vital services, and gaining an unfair advantage over similar businesses,” said Acting Commissioner Hiller. “We’ll continue to work with all levels of law enforcement, including the Attorney General’s Office, to root out this type of illegal behavior.”
A joint investigation by the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau and the Department of Taxation and Finance’s (DTF) Criminal Investigations Division revealed that Verrazano systematically underreported taxable motor fuel sales and, additionally, failed to remit collected sales tax from December 2009 up to and through November 2015. A DTF audit of sales tax returns for the relevant time period revealed that Verrazano underreported its taxable sales by $10,552,877. As a result, after crediting sales tax of $531,913.28 that was pre-paid to DTF by the wholesale supplier, Verrazano failed to remit $244,581.85 in sales tax due to New York state.
This morning, before the Honorable Abena Darkeh in Kings County State Supreme Court, Verrazano tendered a plea of guilty to one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a Class C Felony. Also, this morning, before the Honorable Abena Darkeh in Kings County State Criminal Court, Adrees tendered a plea of guilty to one count of Criminal Solicitation in the Fifth Degree. Both Verrazano and Adrees jointly paid over $189,000 in restitution to DTF, executed a confession of judgment for the benefit of DTF for the entire amount that was stolen, and were sentenced to a conditional discharge.
The OAG wishes to thank DTF’s’ Criminal Investigations Division for their valuable assistance in this investigation.
The investigation by the OAG was conducted by Detective Investigator Brian Metz, under the supervision of Supervising Detective Michael Leahy and Deputy Chief Antoine Karam. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Oliver Pu-Folkes.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Counsel Gabriel Tapalaga of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, assisted by Supervising Legal Support Analyst Paul Strocko. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph G. D’Arrigo. Both the Investigation Bureau and the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau are part of the Division for Criminal Justice, which is overseen by Chief Deputy Attorney General Jose Maldonado and First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.