Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, joined by New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox, announced that on THURSDAY, JANUARY 8, 2015 a Queens man who owns an Edible Arrangements franchise in Springfield Gardens, Queens, has pleaded guilty to violations of the New York State Tax Code for failing to pay more than $185,000 in taxes due to both New York City and New York State.
District Attorney Brown said, “Sales taxes are meant for the public treasury - not to line the pockets of businessmen. The defendant showed a callous disregard for the tax laws. He stole from his customers as well as from the State of New York and the City by under reporting his business’ earnings. The defendant has now admitted his guilt and will be sentenced accordingly.”
Commissioner Mattox said, “The defendant admitted to willfully stealing tax dollars paid by customers, a crime that can’t be tolerated. We will continue to work with District Attorney Brown and other law enforcement partners to prosecute those who attempt to evade paying their fair share of taxes.”
District Attorney Brown identified the defendant as Maurice Letman, 42, of Springfield Gardens, Queens. The defendant is the owner of MSM Arrangements that operates as an Edible Arrangements franchise at 133-23 Springfield Boulevard in Queens. The business sells fruit baskets and fruit bouquets. Letman pleaded guilty to violations of sections 1804 and 1802 of the New York State Tax Code and corporate defendant MSM Arrangements pleaded guilty to a violation of section 1804 of the Tax Code and criminal tax fraud in the third degree before Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Suzanne Melendez. The business will receive a conditional discharge. Defendant Letman will be sentenced on March 2, 2015.
District Attorney Brown said that the defendant’s business collected in excess of $2 million between 2007 and 2011, but failed to pay more than $100,000 in taxes owed. Between 2011 and 2013, the defendant’s business collected just over $1.2 million yet the defendant claimed in required filings to have only taken in about $26,000 - cheating the city and state coffers of another $50,000.
The District Attorney said that the defendant has repaid over $90,000 and must still pay another $97,537. The total restitution is $188,448. As a condition of the plea agreement, the defendant signed an agreement with the New York State Department of Taxation to pay penalties and interest in excess of $200,000.
The investigation was conducted by Forensic Tax Auditor Harry Marc-Charles of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance under the supervision of Chunyip Tsui, the section head of Criminal Investigations Division.