Pocketed All Proceeds On Three Years’ Of Sales
The owner of a Long Island City car dealership was driven to jail last Thursday, May 30, for allegedly pocketing over $600,000 in sales tax revenue over a three-year period, prosecutors announced.
Staten Island resident Khamis Zahra, 56, of Abbey Road, and his company-Town Car Warehouse, Inc., located at 31-07 Queens Blvd.-were charged last Thursday with multiple counts of second- and third-degree grand larceny, offering a false instrument for filing, falsifying business records, scheme to defraud and a host of tax law violations.
Zahra appeared in Queens Criminal Court last Thursday for arraignment, and was subsequently released by Judge Donna Marie Golia on his own recognizance. He was ordered to return to court on July 23, according to court records.
If convicted, Zahra could serve up to 15 years in prison and Town Car Warehouse may be hit with a fine of up to $10,000 or double the amount of the illegal gain, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, who announced the charges with State Taxation and Finance Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox.
The joint investigation conducted by the Queens District Attorney’s office and the Department of Taxation and Finance found that Zahra and Town Car Warehouse allegedly failed to report $673,000 in tax revenue collected from customers between Mar. 1, 2008 and Nov. 30, 2011. It is alleged that the owner pocketed the proceeds rather than pay it to the state, as required by law.
“When consumers pay sales taxes, they expect those funds to go into the public treasury,” Brown said in a statement last Thursday.” In this case, it is alleged, [Zahra] pocketed most of the sales taxes that he collected over a three-year period. This is the type of crime that makes every New Yorker a victim by cheating the government and the public out of money that is necessary to maintain services and infrastructure.”
Members of the state Department of Taxation and Finance and the Queens District Attorney’s office conducted the probe. Among the officers involved was Sgt. Elizabeth A. Curcio of the Queens DA’s Detective Bureau, which is supervised by Chief Investigator Lawrence J. Fest and Deputy Chief Investigator Albert D. Velardi.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Michael- Sean Spence of the DA’s Special Proceedings Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Andrew H. Kaufman, chief of the Crimes Against Revenue Unit, and Anthony M. Communiello and Oscar W. Ruiz, chief and deputy chief, respectively, of the Special Proceedings Bureau.