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Jax Hgts tailor looted $1.7M in sales tax: AG

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A Jackson Heights tailor famous for making and altering suits for sports stars pleaded guilty Tuesday to evading almost $2 million in taxes and could spend up to three years in jail, the state attorney general’s office said.

Mohanbhai Ramchandani, who operates Mohan’s Custom Tailors Inc., on East 42nd Street in Manhattan, admitted to deliberately withholding $1.7 million in state and local sales taxes since 2002 while charging his customers for them, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. His tax evasion was brought to the AG’s attention through an unnamed whistleblower, the AG said.

Ramchandani also withheld $256,000 of his own personal taxes from 2007-09, the AG’s office said.

“There are no excuses for tax cheats — regardless of how prominent they are,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Mr. Ramchandani’s conviction for orchestrating this multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud taxpayers sends a clear message that those who rip off the public will be held accountable for their crimes.”

Ramchandani, a 66-year-old Indian immigrant, moved to New York City in 1972. His family also owns a clothing factory that makes items for him in Hong Kong. He lives in Jackson Heights.

Famous clients listed on Mohan’s website include late NBA player Wilt Chamberlain, former New York Knick Patrick Ewing and former New York Yankee and New York Met Darryl Strawberry.

Ramchandani, who believes in numerology, would report figures on his quarterly sales tax findings so that the individual digits in a sum would always add up to a multiple of 10, the AG’s office said. In one filing, he listed the sales tax due as $13,484, which equals 20 when each digit in the number is added up, the AG’s office said.

Ramchandani’s sentence is expected to include one year to three years in prison and a $5.5 million fine of damages and penalties, the AG’s office said.

His crimes were brought to light by a whistleblower under the state False Claims Act, which protects those who come forward and requires those found guilty to pay three times the damages and civil penalties accrued, the AG’s office said. This is the first time the act has been used in a tax fraud crime, the AG’s office said.

“This case has national importance because it conclusively shows that such a law, along with aggressive enforcement methods and an openness to working with whistleblowers, works and benefits taxpayers,” Chairman Neil Getnick, of the whistleblower advocacy group Taxpayers Against Fraud, said in a statement.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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