A.G. Schneiderman Secures Jail Time For Tobacco Wholesaler Who Evaded Over $700,000 In Taxes

A.G. Obtains Felony Convictions Against General Manager Of Tobacco Wholesalers In Brooklyn & Queens Who Submitted False Documents To The State

Schneiderman: Tax Evasion Is A Serious Crime That Will Not Go Unpunished

NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that Isidro "Tony" Tavarez pleaded guilty to felony charges for his role in leading a large scale tax evasion scheme that cost the state more than $700,000. Tavarez was convicted today in Kings County Criminal Court, before the Honorable Alexander Jeong, of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a Class "E" felony, and Willful Attempt to Evade or Defeat Payment of Tobacco Products Taxes, also a Class "E" felony, and was sentenced to one year in prison.

To evade paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in New York State taxes, between December 2005 to March 2012, Tavarez engaged in a complex tax evasion scheme. As part of this scheme, Tavarez doctored wholesale invoices from tobacco sellers to hide purchases from auditors at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (DTF). To further conceal his crimes, after being confronted by DTF with inconsistencies in his tax returns and supporting documents, Tavarez continued to submit false documents to DTF. As a result of his scheme, from 2005 to 2008 alone, Tavarez failed to pay more than $700,000 dollars in tobacco products taxes.

"Tax evasion is a serious crime, and the ringleader of this scheme to defraud the government will be held accountable for flagrantly violating the law," said Attorney General Schneiderman. “On behalf of all the honest businesses and taxpayers who play by the rules, our office will prosecute this kind of unlawful conduct to the fullest extent of the law.”

In 2009, DTF began an audit of Brooklyn Tobacco Wholesalers Inc. (Brooklyn Tobacco), located at 1981 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, and T&R Tobacco Sales Company, Inc. (T&R Tobacco), located at 203-07 Linden Boulevard, St. Albans, Queens, New York. Tavarez, the general manager of Brooklyn Tobacco, was responsible for purchasing all products, overseeing the distribution and sales of all products, filing tax returns, and paying taxes, including taxes on purchased of tobacco products that had not already been taxed.

The case was a result of a joint investigation by the Attorney General's Office and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. The Attorney General thanks New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Commissioner Thomas Mattox and his staff for their assistance in this investigation.

"The evasion of tobacco products tax is a very serious issue that this Department vigorously combats," saidCommissioner Mattox. "I would like to thank Attorney General Schneiderman and his staff for the effort that they put into this prosecution."

This case was investigated by Associate Attorney for the Criminal Investigations Division Carla V. DiMarco, Revenue Crimes Specialist Robert Moskal, Section Head of Forensic Audit Daniel Jervis, Tax Auditor Nicole L. Napoli, and Forensic Tax Auditor 2 Janell Sabin, under the supervision of Deputy Commissioner Richard Ernst.

For the Office of the Attorney General, this investigation was handled by Senior Investigator Salvatore Ventola, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Kenneth Morgan, Deputy Chief of Investigations John McManus, Deputy Chief Investigator John Reidy and Chief Dominick Zarrella. The prosecution was being handled by Assistant Attorney General Benjamin J. Mantell of the Criminal Prosecution Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton, Bureau Chief Gail Heatherly and Deputy Executive Attorney General for Criminal Justice Nancy Hoppock.