TRENTON –Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a used car dealer who formerly operated dealerships in Toms River, N.J., was sentenced to state prison today for stealing $185,000 by collecting state sales tax from customers that he purposely failed to turn over to the State of New Jersey.
James J. Colapinto, 54, of Freehold, N.J., was sentenced to three years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Michael T. Collins in Ocean County. Colapinto was president of Dancola, Inc., which formerly operated two used car dealerships in Toms River. He pleaded guilty on Aug. 24, 2018 to an accusation charging him with second-degree counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of property received and failure to turn over collected tax.
In pleading guilty, Colapinto admitted that he failed to remit approximately $185,000 in sales tax that he collected at his two car dealerships from 2012 through 2015. Colapinto deliberately underreported the sales tax he collected during those years. Under the plea agreement, he must pay the Division of Taxation $200,000, representing restitution of $185,000 for the sales tax he failed to remit, plus $15,000 in interest and penalties. Colapinto paid $49,000 of the total at sentencing today.
Deputy Attorney General Peter Gallagher prosecuted Colapinto for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. He was charged in an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and the Division of Taxation Office of Criminal Investigation. The investigation began when the Division of Taxation conducted an audit of Dancola, Inc., which revealed discrepancies in the company’s sales tax reporting and payments.
Colapinto was also sentenced today by Judge Collins in connection with a separate criminal case brought by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office in which Colapinto pleaded guilty to defrauding a commercial lender that loaned him money for his car dealerships. As part of a global resolution of the two criminal cases, he pleaded guilty on Aug. 24, 2018 to a charge of second-degree theft in the case filed by the county prosecutor. He was sentenced today to three years in state prison on that charge, with the sentence to run concurrently with the sentence imposed in the tax case. Supervising Assistant Prosecutor William Scharfenberg prosecuted the case for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
“Colapinto repeatedly lied about how much sales tax he collected at his car dealerships,” said Attorney General Grewal. “This sentence sends a message that we will aggressively prosecute business owners who defraud the State of New Jersey by misrepresenting their tax obligations.”
“We will continue to work closely with the Division of Taxation to hold tax cheats accountable,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “This type of theft is costly to the State of New Jersey as well as its honest taxpayers.”
“This is a clear example of the great lengths our Division of Taxation investigators go to in order to root out tax fraud,” said State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio. “I’d like to commend all of our state agencies involved for their collaborative efforts to ensure that law abiding taxpayers don’t pay the price for those who attempt to defraud the state.”
Special Agent Kyle Mullane of the Division of Taxation Office of Criminal Investigation and Detective Naike Casciano of the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau conducted the investigation. Attorney General Grewal thanked the Division of Taxation Office of Criminal Investigation for its referral and assistance.
Andrew Butchko, Esq., Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., Somers Point, N.J.