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Richmond Hill liquor store steals $500,000 in sales tax: DA

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A Queens man and his Richmond Hill business were charged with criminal tax fraud, grand larceny and falsifying records after he allegedly stole more than $500,000 in New York State sales tax, according to the Queens district attorney.

The defendant, Gurcharan Singh, 33, of Glen Oaks, was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court last week and released on his own recognizance to appear for a May 5 hearing.

Singh, who is listed as the chairman and chief executive officer of Raj American Liquor Inc., 102-25 Atlantic Ave., faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 or double the amount of his illegal gains if he is found guilty, the DA said.

Company tax return documents filed by Singh reported sales of about $388,000 between March 1, 2007 and May 31, 2010, according to a criminal complaint filed by the DA. But the liquor store collected over $11.3 million in revenue within that time, underreporting over $10 million in sales, according to the complaint.

DA Richard Brown said the liquor store’s customers would expect the additional 10 percent they paid on any liquor or wine bottle to go right to the public treasury, but that was not the case for at least three years.

“In this case, it is alleged, the defendant pocketed just over $500,000 of the sales tax he collected,” Brown said in a statement. “This is the type of crime that makes every New Yorker a victim, because the government and the public are cheated out of money to fund programs, services and infrastruc­ture.”

The initial investigation by Finance Commissioner Kenneth Adams only flushed out the larceny on tax filings for three years, but Adams said he and the DA’s Office will continue to work diligently to prosecute to the fullest extent any business that fails to pay sales tax.

Raj American Liquor continues to operate in Richmond Hill with a valid liquor license, but may close if the owner is convicted and fines set in.

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Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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