Merrick, NY - June 25, 2015 - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Jerry Boone announced today the indictment of Ronald Ustica, Jr., 46, and his collision center, R&U Associates Inc. on seven felony charges stemming from the alleged collection and theft of sales taxes for vehicle repairs at R&U from June 1, 2007 through March 21, 2011.
Ustica, a resident of Suffolk County, is the owner of R&U Associates Inc., also known as R&U Auto Body Inc., a collision center located at 10 Kees Place, Merrick, New York. According to the prosecution, Ustica and R&U collected but failed to remit to New York State over $570,000 in sales taxes between June 1, 2007 and March 21, 2011. They also allegedly filed false quarterly sales tax returns which grossly underreported the millions of dollars in taxable sales at R&U, and the sales tax they had collected during the time period.
“When a business pockets sales tax revenue paid by its customers, it unfairly shifts the burden onto other hard-working New Yorkers,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Those who are already paying their fair share of taxes shouldn’t have to pick up the tab for those who skip out on their bill.”
“Collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from customers in sales tax, then failing to pay those funds to the State as required by law, is a serious crime,” said Commissioner Boone. “We’ll continue to team with the Attorney General and law enforcement organizations across New York to prosecute these crimes.”
According to the indictment, unsealed today in Albany County Supreme Court, an Albany County grand jury charged the defendants with the following crimes: Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, in violation of New York State Penal Law § 155.40 (one count); Criminal Tax Fraud in the Second Degree, a class C felony, in violation of Tax Law § 1805 (two counts); Criminal Tax Fraud in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, in violation of Tax Law § 1803, and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony, in violation of New York State Penal Law § 175.35 (3 counts).
In addition to the criminal charges filed against the defendants, the Attorney General’s office also filed a civil forfeiture action in Albany County Supreme Court which seeks to restrain and attach and ultimately forfeit $570,963.73 in assets of Ronald Ustica, Jr. and R&U Associates, Inc. as proceeds of their crimes
The defendants were arraigned before Hon. Roger D. McDonough, Supreme Court, in Albany County. Bail was set at $25,000 cash and $50,000 bond and Ustica was remanded into custody.
The charges against the defendant are allegations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the Department of Taxation and Finance’s Criminal Investigations Division, and then referred to the Attorney General’s office for further investigation and prosecution.
Assisting in the investigation are Investigator Kyle Vitale-O’Sullivan and Senior Auditor Dmitry Temis of the Attorney General’s Auto Insurance Fraud Unit, under the direction of Supervising Investigators Edward Keegan and Natalie Shifrin and Deputy Chief Leonard D'Alessandro. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Benjamin S. Clark of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau of the Attorney General’s Office. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Gary T. Fishman and Deputy Bureau Chiefs Stephanie Swenton and Meryl Lutsky. The civil case is being handled by Assistant Deputy Attorney General Brian Moore of the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.