Two CNY restaurant owners plead guilty to tax evasion

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CENTRAL NEW YORK (WSYR-TV) — New York State Attorney General Letitia James and New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Acting Commissioner Amanda Hiller announced that the owners of two popular upstate restaurants and bars have pleaded guilty to tax evasion.

George Seibel, 60, of Homer, and Anthony Caruso, 60, of Cortland, as well as the parent companies of their respective businesses, Dark Horse Tavern, A Pizza and More, Hairy Tony’s, and Dasher’s Corner Pub, pleaded guilty to Criminal Tax Fraud for underreporting more than $4 million in taxable sales. As part of their pleas, the defendants repaid the state the full $479,203.03 they owed to New York.

“We will not allow anyone to get away with stealing from the state’s coffers,” said Attorney General James. “These guilty pleas ensure that these establishments finally pony up the cash they illegally pocketed and rein in their dishonest behavior. I want to thank Acting Commissioner Hiller for her leadership and her department’s critical work in protecting New York taxpayers.”

“Business owners who blatantly disregard their obligation to pay over the sales taxes they collected from their customers deprive the communities where they operate of revenue needed for vital services and put similar businesses at an unfair disadvantage,” said Acting Commissioner Hiller. “I thank the Attorney General for her partnership on this case, and we’ll continue to work with all our law enforcement partners to bring these criminals to justice.”

An investigation by the Office of Attorney General (OAG) and the Department of Taxation and Finance revealed that between 2010 and 2015, Seibel and Caruso collectively underreported a total of more than $4 million in taxable sales, and failed to remit over $475,000 in sales tax collected from their six different restaurants and bars throughout Cortland and Onondaga counties.   

Seibel and Caruso registered APAM, LLC with New York state and subsequently opened three pizzerias named A Pizza and More, located in Cortland, Homer, and Tully, New York. A Tax Department audit of sales tax returns for the period between December 1, 2011 and May 31, 2015 revealed that Seibel and Caruso underreported A Pizza and More’s taxable sales by $1,948,166.04. As a result, Seibel, Caruso, and APAM failed to remit $158,653.28 in sales tax due to New York state.     

Caruso individually registered Anthony Caruso, LLC with New York state and opened Hairy Tony’s, a pub located in Cortland, New York. A Tax Department audit of sales tax returns for the period between December 1, 2010 and May 31, 2015 revealed that Caruso underreported Hairy Tony’s taxable sales by $1,637,649.90, and failed to remit $131,024.98 in sales tax due to New York state.

Seibel individually registered Academy Avenue Enterprises, Inc. with New York state and opened Dark Horse Tavern in Cortland, New York. A Tax Department audit of sales tax returns for the period between March 1, 2012 and November 30, 2015 revealed that Seibel underreported Dark Horse Tavern’s taxable sales by $1,098,799.73, and failed to remit $90,895.47 in sales tax due to New York state.

Seibel also individually registered James & Main, LLC with New York state and opened Dasher’s Corner Pub, a pub and restaurant located in Homer, New York. A Tax Department audit of sales tax returns for the period between June 1, 2012 and May 31, 2015 revealed that Seibel failed to remit $98,629.32 in sales tax due to New York state.

In December 2019, APAM pleaded guilty before the Honorable Gerald Keene in Cortland County Court to Criminal Tax Fraud in the Third Degree, a Class D felony, and paid all sales tax owed in full.

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