Angola restaurant owners plead guilty to failing to pay sales tax

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance today announced that two owners and operators of a barbecue restaurant in Angola have pleaded guilty to one felony count of third-degree grand larceny.

Shelly Firsch Hunt, 56, of 29 Commercial Avenue, Angola, and William J. Francis, 65, of 22 Orchard Avenue, Angola, operated Desperado’s BBQ, also in Angola. An investigation by the Tax Department’s Criminal Investigations Division found that the joint operators failed to file 13 sales tax returns and remit more than $56,000 in sales taxes collected from their customers to New York state as required by law.

Hunt and Francis, scheduled to be sentenced on July 11 in Erie County Court, could each face a prison sentence of up to seven years.

“Restaurants and all other businesses that pocket sales taxes violate the trust of their customers, deprive their communities and the state of vital tax revenue, and shift the tax burden on to honest businesses,” said Acting Tax Commissioner Nonie Manion. “We thank the Erie County District Attorney’s Office for assisting us with the investigation and prosecuting this case.”