The owner of seven Papa John’s pizza franchises in Queens and Brooklyn last Friday became the second Queens-based Papa John’s owner since August to be arrested on charges stemming from alleged sales tax theft.
Uchenna Onuaguluchi, 46, of Rosedale, was charged last week with allegedly withholding $610,000 in state sales taxes according to a joint statement issued last week by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and state Taxation and Finance Commissioner Thomas Mattox.
The alleged theft took place between March 2005 and May 2009, during which time Onuaguluchi is accused of having collected about $671,576 in sales tax, but forwarded only $60,630 to the state.
Brown said Onuaguluchi owns Papa John’s restaurants on Atlantic Avenue in South Richmond Hill; Woodhaven Boulevard in Rego Park; Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park; and Farrington Street in Bayside; as well as two in Brooklyn.
Another restaurant on Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill closed in 2010.
She was charged with second-degree criminal tax fraud, second-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of stolen property, first-degree falsifying of business records and first-degree offering of a false instrument for filing.
“This is yet another example of a business owner failing to turn over to the state hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales tax that she allegedly collected from customers,” Brown said.
“Such criminal activity, if true, will not be tolerated,” Brown added. “The government relies on the collection of taxes to operate and while most business owners comply with the law, those who do not will be brought to justice.”
Brown’s office said Onuaguluchi faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
Back in August, Syed Mehboob of Syosset, LI, who owned six Papa John’s franchises in Queens, was charged with withholding about $217,000 in sales taxes. His case still is pending.