By Philip Newman
A Ridgewood auto dealership and its owner have been charged with criminal tax fraud, grand larceny and other illegal acts for allegedly stealing nearly $300,000 in collected taxes from New York state and local municipalities, the Queens district attorney said.
DA Richard Brown identified those charged as Pasquale Bonavita, 50, of 149th Avenue in Ozone Park and Cypress Motors of Ridgewood, located at 79-03 Cyprus Ave.
Bonavita was arraigned June 8 before Queens Criminal Court Judge Althea Drysdale, who charging him and the business with grand larceny, criminal tax fraud, falsifying business records, offering a flawed instrument for filing and scheming to defraud.
If convicted, Bonavita could get up to 15 years in prison. He was released on his own recognizance and ordered to return to court June 22.
Brown said that according to the charges, Bonavita skimmed more than $290,000. Nearly $145,000 of those funds would have been owed to New York state and local municipalities would have received more than $146,000, he said.
“Sales taxes are meant for the public treasury, not to line the pockets of business owners,” Brown said. “Taxes are collected to be used in the public interest.This kind of tax fraud makes every New Yorker a victim.”
According to the criminal complaint, Bonavita submitted tax returns from March 1, 2009 through May 31, 2014 that showed sales totaled $1.126 million for the period when a review of records found Cyprus had sales of $4.436 million over that span.