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Department of Taxation and Finance

Utica Liquor Store Owner Charged with Sales Tax Evasion The defendant faces a total of 22 felony counts, including grand larceny

For Release: Immediate,

For press inquiries only, contact: James Gazzale, 518-457-7377

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance today announced that the owner of a Utica liquor store has been charged with multiple counts of sales tax evasion.

Manuel D. Mendez, 61, of 202 King Street, Utica, is the owner of James Street Liquor, located at 208 James Street. He was arrested by investigators with the Tax Department’s Criminal Investigations Division, arraigned in Utica City Court, and now faces 22 felony charges:

  • one count of Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree;
  • nine counts of Criminal Tax Fraud in the 3rd Degree;
  • one count of Criminal Tax Fraud in the 4th Degree; and
  • eleven counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the 1st Degree.

The defendant collected more than $70,000 in sales taxes from his customers from 2013 through 2015, but he allegedly failed to remit those funds to the state as required by law.

“Collecting, but failing to remit, sales tax dollars, boils down to stealing from the state and local communities that depend on this revenue stream to fund critical public programs and services,” said Acting Tax Commissioner Nonie Manion. “It’s a crime that won’t be tolerated.”

Mendez pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance. His next court appearance is scheduled for May 19. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The case will be prosecuted by the Oneida County District Attorney.

New Yorkers aware of sales tax evasion or fraud can anonymously report it online or by calling 518-457-0578. The Tax Department takes this type of illegal activity seriously, promptly reviews each complaint, and takes corrective action when appropriate.