Cortland County car dealer arrested for tax fraud

New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox today announced the arrest of a Cortland County car dealership owner for sales tax fraud that amounted to more than $180,000.Joseph Fezza, 45, the owner and sole proprietor of JF Auto World, also known as Auto World, located at 991 Tompkins Street, Town of Cortlandville, NY, faces five felony charges. They stem 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. The charges are: 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.Fezza was arraigned on these charges by Cortland City Court Judge Thomas A. Meldrim and entered a plea of not guilty to all charges. He was released upon posting bail. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of five to fifteen years in prison.A joint investigation conducted by the Tax Department and the Attorney General’s Office found that Fezza collected but failed to remit to New York State more than $180,000 in sales taxes from March, 2004, through September, 2009. He also failed to file sales tax returns since July 2004, and failed to file personal income tax returns since 1998.Commissioner Mattox thanked Assistant Attorney General Joshua Vinciguerra, Stephen J. Maher, Deputy Bureau Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, and Gail Heatherly, Bureau Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, all from the New York State Attorney General’s Office, for their cooperation in the case.The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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