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Department of Taxation and Finance

Hamburg Restauranteur Agrees to Pay $40,000 Following Guilty Plea Owner of Wanakah Grill failed to remit sales tax collected from customers

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 the Wanakah Grill in Hamburg, New York, pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny and will pay more than $40,000 in restitution.

James Rath, 60, from Lake View, New York, admitted to pocketing $40,661 in sales tax collected from his customers rather than sending that money to the Tax Department as required by law.

“Those who disregard their obligation to remit the sales tax they collect violate the trust of their customers, deprive the communities where they operate of revenue needed for vital services, and put similar businesses at a competitive disadvantage,” said New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Michael Schmidt. “We will continue to work with all our law enforcement partners on these cases and thank the Erie County District Attorney for their work on this case.”

The sales tax was collected from customers at Wanakah Grill, 2293 Pleasant Avenue, Lake View (a hamlet in the town of Hamburg) between March,1, 2014, and February 28, 2018.

Under the plea agreement, Rath must pay restitution of $40,661. He is scheduled to be sentenced December 17, 2019, and could face a sentence of up to a year in prison.

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You can report tax evasion and fraud online at the Tax Department's website or by phone at 518-457-0578. The information is kept confidential. The Tax Department promptly reviews each complaint and takes corrective action when appropriate.