BY KIRSTEN E. PAULSON
An Ozone Park auto body repair shop and its owner have been charged with criminal tax fraud and grand larceny for allegedly stealing more than $125,000 in collected taxes that were owed to New York State and local municipalities.
Stephanie Davino, 31, of Howard Beach, and her business, A&W Auto Collision Center Inc., located at 104-11 101st St., have been charged with multiple degrees of criminal tax fraud, grand larceny, scheme to defraud and conspiracy, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
According to the criminal complaint, Davino failed to file a single sales tax return between Jan. 26, 2012, and March 3, 2014. However, her business performed $1.4 million in repairs during that time, collecting payments from GEICO, State Farm, Allstate, Progressive and USAA insurance companies. The total amount of sales tax owed to the city and state from this time totaled to about $125,700 ($61,965 to New York State and $63,735 to local municipalities).
“Sales taxes are meant for the public treasury – not the pockets of business owners. By purposefully defrauding the state and local government out of these funds – that could have been used in the public interest – the money instead allegedly lined the pocketbook of this businesswoman. This kind of tax fraud makes every New Yorker a victim,” Brown said.
Davino has been released on her own recognizance and has been ordered to return to court on Sept. 30.
If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in prison and her business will be fined $10,000, or double the amount that was illegally gained.