J's Oyster Owner Sentenced to Jail for Stealing Sales Tax from Restaurant Customers

March 20, 2018

AUGUSTA ? Attorney General Janet Mills announced today that Cynthia Brown, 58, of Portland, Maine, has been sentenced to four months in jail for pocketing sales taxes paid by customers at J?s Oyster, a Portland restaurant, and for failing to pay her personal and corporate income taxes. From March 2008 through March 2015 Brown collected sales tax from restaurant patrons, but failed to turn over to Maine Revenue Services most of the sales tax she collected. Brown illegally kept the remaining funds for her own personal and business use. Brown then underreported the restaurant?s taxable sales and sales taxes collected, which enabled Brown to steal over $800,000 in sales tax. She also failed to pay personal and corporate income tax during this time period.

Justice Lance Walker sentenced Brown on March 19, 2018 to four years in prison with all but four months suspended, and three years of probation. Total restitution in the case was $1,302,681. After pleading guilty in January 2017 Brown paid over $829,000 towards her restitution obligation. Brown is required to pay the remaining $473,315 in restitution as a condition of her probation.

Attorney General Mills commented, ?Maine citizens trust business owners to pay over the sales taxes charged to their customers to Maine Revenue Services and to pay personal and corporate taxes on the income that they earn. My Office will pursue individuals who abuse the trust placed in them to collect sales tax for the benefit of the people of the State of Maine. We also will strive to recover as much restitution as possible in order to make Maine taxpayers whole.?

This case was investigated by the Maine Revenue Services? Criminal Investigations Unit. Assistant Attorney General Gregg D. Bernstein handled the matter for the Attorney General?s Criminal Division.