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Queens Chronicle

DA slices pizzerias’ owner on tax charges

His 6 Papa John’s companies also cited

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Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:23 am, Thu Aug 22, 2013.

The owner of six Papa John’s pizzerias in Queens, as well his six corporations have been charged with stealing $217,000 in unreported state sales taxes.

Syed Mehboob, 45, was identified as a resident of both Flushing and Syosset, LI, in a joint statement issued Friday by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and New York State Commissioner of Tax and Finance Thomas Mattox.

He owns Papa John’s franchises in Astoria, Corona, Woodside, Bayside and Sunnyside. Mehboob was arraigned Friday morning before Queens Criminal Court Judge Joel Blumenfeld on charges of second-degree grand larceny, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, second-degree criminal possession of stolen property, filing false tax returns and first-degree falsifying business records.

If convicted on all charges Mehboob could face up to 15 years in prison. He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on Sept. 10.

His six corporations also have been charged in the complaint, and could be punished with a fine of up to $10,000 or twice the amount of any illegal gain.

The investigation was conducted by Mattox’s Criminal Investigation Division, and consisted of an audit of Mehboob’s company records between March 2005 and November 2010.

The state is alleging that his restaurants collected neatly $1.15 million in sales tax during that time, but reported less than $949,000 to the state.

“When consumers pay sales taxes they expect those funds to go into the public treasury — not into the business owner’s pockets,” Brown said.

“Crimes such as the one alleged here — stealing the public’s money — can’t be tolerated, especially since the overwhelming number of businesses voluntarily remit the sales tax they collect, and do so consistently and accurately,” Mattox said.

Papa John’s corporate officials could not be reached for comment on Mehboob’s arrest or the future of the six stores prior to the Chronicle’s deadline on Wednesday afternoon.

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