The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance announced today that the co-owner of a mid-town Manhattan restaurant pled guilty to stealing sales tax money collected from customers but never remitted to the State or New York City.
Nicholas Rotundo, 47, a resident of Old Westbury in Nassau County, surrendered in April and pled guilty to one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony. He admitted to collecting State and New York City sales tax from customers from June 1, 2007 to November 30, 2011, but failed to remit these collections as required by tax law.
Rotundo, a co-owner of Firebird, 365-367 West 46th Street, a high-end Russian restaurant on "restaurant row," also pled guilty to one count of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Third Degree, a class D felony, for failure to withhold income tax from employees in 2010. As a result of the plea:
● Firebird remitted $690,145 in sales tax liabilities including tax, penalties and interest, and
$127,636 in withholding tax liabilities;
● Firebird also remitted New York State unemployment tax liabilities of $27,647, and New
York City General Corporation Tax liabilities of $62,621;
● Rotundo agreed to a criminal fine of $20,000;
● The co-owner of Firebird, Betazbe (Betty) Valentine, 61, also of Old Westbury, remitted
$247,827 in personal income tax liabilities; and
● Joseph Valentine, her son, 30, of New York City, remitted $35,621 in personal income tax
Rotundo was sentenced June 20 to a prison sentence of one to three years, but was granted conditional discharge of three years. Joseph Valentine and Betty Valentine also made full restitution of tax debt due the State and New York City.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Gilda Mariani of the New York County District Attorney's Office, and the State and City Tax Departments.
"When it comes to tax evasion - whether sales, corporation, or personal income tax - we will use the Department's enforcement powers to ensure that businesses comply with all of their tax obligations," said Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas H. Mattox.
The Tax Department offers the Voluntary Disclosure and Compliance Program to encourage delinquent taxpayers to become compliant without facing criminal prosecution or civil penalty. For more information about this program, visit www.tax.ny.gov