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Maine Restaurant Owner Going to Jail for 8 months for Stealing Sales Tax
January 27, 2016
AUGUSTA – Attorney General Janet Mills announced today that Christo Stratos, 69, of Wells, Maine, was sentenced to serve 8 months in jail after pleading guilty to multiple counts of: Theft by Misapplication of Sales Tax; Intentional Evasion of Sales Tax; and Failure to Truthfully Collect, Account, and Pay Over Sales Tax. Stratos committed the crimes in connection with his operation of the restaurant Christo’s Place in Sanford.
From 1999 through 2014 Stratos collected sales tax from restaurant patrons, but turned over only a fraction of that tax to the Maine Revenue Services. Instead, he significantly underreported his gross sales and the resulting sales tax. Stratos stole a total of $243,902 in collected sales tax during this time frame. Stratos admitted to the Maine Revenue Services’ criminal investigators that he thought it was “commonplace” for business owners to underreport collected sales tax.
York County Superior Court Justice Lance Walker sentenced Stratos to 4 years, with all but 8 months suspended, and 3 years of probation. The State already has recovered $100,000 from Stratos and will be recovering an additional $50,000 before Stratos begins his sentence on February 8, 2015. Stratos also was ordered to pay the remaining restitution of $93,902.
Attorney General Mills commented, “Business owners are entrusted to collect sales tax on behalf of the State and properly pay it over to Maine Revenue Services. My Office will pursue and prosecute individuals who abuse this trust and steal these taxes."
This case was investigated by the Maine Revenue Services’ Criminal Investigations Unit. Assistant Attorney General Gregg D. Bernstein handled this matter for the Attorney General’s Criminal Division.