Eight Arrested on Tax Charges

Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini and the State Department of Taxation and Finance Wednesday announced the arrest of eight individuals, including three tax preparers, on charges of filing fraudulent tax returns, failing to file personal income tax returns and failing to pay personal income taxes.

The arrests were part of an effort during tax season to crack down on individuals committing tax fraud in the state.

Two residents of Commack and a third from Melville were among the eight.

“When someone cheats on their taxes, it’s not only an act of dishonesty, but it’s cheating everyone else who is playing by the rules,” District Attorney Sini said. “It is a serious crime to not pay your taxes, particularly through fraudulent means, because it has an impact on all of us; it impacts law-abiding citizens and it has an impact on the government initiatives and projects that are so important to the public safety and well-being of our residents.”

Arrested were:
Marc Leibowitz, 48, of Melville, who is charged with four counts of Criminal
Tax Fraud in the Third Degree, a D felony, for allegedly failing to file personal income tax returns for 2013 and 2015 and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, an E felony, for allegedly filing a false personal income tax return in 2014. It is alleged that Leibowitz committed these acts to evade the payment of approximately $37,444 in New York State personal income taxes. Leibowitz is the owner of Guss’ Glatt, Inc., Leibowitz Enterprises NY, Inc., and Guss Provisions, Inc., located at 15 Treeview Drive in Melville.

Richard Pearl, 69, of Commack, is charged with two counts of Criminal Tax
Fraud in the Third Degree, a D felony, for allegedly filing false personal income tax returns in 2015 and 2016 to evade the payment of approximately $40,456 in New York State personal income taxes. Pearl is also charged with Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, an E felony, for allegedly filing false tax returns as a tax preparer.

Mary Wickman, 63, of Commack, is charged with two counts of Criminal Tax
Fraud in the Fourth Degree, an E felony, for allegedly filing false personal income tax returns in 2015 and 2016 to evade the payment of approximately $34,032 in New York State personal income taxes. Wickman is also charged with Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, an E felony, for allegedly filing false tax returns as a tax preparer.

Also arrested were:

Robert Falco, 61, of Lake Grove, is charged with eight counts of Criminal
Tax Fraud in the Third Degree, a D felony, for allegedly failing to file personal income tax returns from 2014 through 2017 to evade the payment of approximately $145,010 in New York State personal income taxes. Falco is the owner of Corporate Climate Control, located at 22 Sycamore Ave. in Lake Grove.

Steven Morales, 58, of Sayville, is charged with Grand Larceny in the
Second Degree, a C felony, and two counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, an E felony. From 2012 through 2015, Morales allegedly stole approximately $55,759.70 in sales tax collected on behalf of New York State. To further this scheme, Morales allegedly filed false New York State sales tax returns that substantially underreported the amount of sales tax collected on behalf of New York State. Morales is also charged with four counts of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Third Degree, a D felony, for allegedly failing to file personal income tax returns for 2014 and 2015 to evade the payment of approximately $14,655 in New York State personal income taxes. Morales is the owner of Countywide of Suffolk, Inc.,Countywide Autobody Corp., Countywide Collision & Towing of Islip Corp., and Countywide of Islip Corp., located at 1498 Spur Drive South in Islip.

Justin Palladino, 38, of West Babylon, is charged with five counts of
Criminal Tax Fraud in the Third Degree, a D felony, Criminal Tax Fraud in the Fourth Degree, an E felony, and two counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, an E felony, for allegedly failing to file personal income tax returns for 2013 and 2015 and filing false tax returns for 2014 and 2016. It is alleged that Palladino committed these acts to evade the payment of approximately $47,143 in New York State personal income taxes. Palladino is the owner of Epoxy Tek Manufacturing, Inc., Northeast Decorative Concrete Supply, Inc., and Epoxy Tek Floors, Inc., at 445 Broadhollow Road in Melville.

Lawrence Sparks, 55, of Brookhaven, is charged with six counts of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Third Degree, a D felony, and two counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, an E felony, for allegedly failing to file personal income tax returns for 2013, 2016 and 2017 and allegedly filing false tax returns in 2014 and 2015. It is alleged that Sparks committed acts to evade the payment of approximately $189,786 in New York State personal income taxes. Sparks is the owner of LNNS Construction & Consulting, Inc., at 20 Jareds Path in Brookhaven.

Tara Petito, 38, of Selden, is charged with Offering a False Instrument
for Filing in the First Degree, an E felony, for allegedly filing false tax returns as a tax preparer.

“Let this serve as a clear warning to any taxpayers considering lining their own pockets at the expense of honest citizens,” said New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Deputy Commissioner of Criminal Investigations John Harford. “Fraud is not a victimless crime. It deprives New Yorkers of vital funding for their communities. We’ll continue to work with all levels of law enforcement to root out this criminal activity.”

If convicted, Morales faces a maximum sentence of five to 15 years in prison. If convicted, Falco, Leibowitz, Palladino, Pearl, and Sparks each face a maximum entence of two and one-third to seven years in prison. If convicted, Wickman and Petito each face a maximum sentence of one and one-third to four years in prison.

Falco, Leibowitz, Palladino, Pearl, and Sparks were arraigned on the charges on March 25 and were all released on their own recognizance. Morales was arraigned Tuesday and was released on his own recognizance. Wickman and Petito will be arraigned at a later date.

“As we near the end of this tax filing season, we want to send a clear message to tax evaders that we will not tolerate their attempt to game the system,” Sini said. “Our Tax Crimes Unit will continue to work with our local, state and federal partners to identify individuals or tax preparers who are cheating and hold them accountable.”

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