For Immediate Release - April 28, 2010

Attleboro Convenience Store Owner Arraigned for Allegedly Not Paying Over $178,000 in Sales Tax

BOSTON - The owner of an Attleboro convenience store has been arraigned for not paying over $178,000 in sales tax to the state on over $3.5 million dollars of tobacco products the store sold. Vanitaben Patel, age 30, of Carver, is charged with Aiding and Assisting in the Preparation of False and Fraudulent Sales Tax Returns (4 counts). At her arraignment yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court, Patel entered a plea of not guilty before Clerk Magistrate Gary Wilson and was released on personal recognizance.

"We allege that Ms. Patel knowingly failed to pay sales tax to the Commonwealth on cigarettes and other tobacco items her store sold, " Attorney General Martha Coakley said. "Business owners who do not pay their taxes are depriving the state of much needed revenue that is critical to the state in these tough economic times."

In January 2010, the Attorney General's Office began an investigation after the matter had been initially investigated and referred by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR). Patel is part-owner and manager of South Side Restaurant and Variety (South Side), a convenience store located in Attleboro. Investigators discovered that from January 2005 through August 2008, South Side filed dozens of monthly sales tax returns based on information provided by Patel to the store's tax return preparer. Authorities allege that these returns underreported South Side's taxable sales by failing to report sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Investigators allege that from January 2005 through August 2008, South Side underreported its taxable sales by more than $3.5 million, and underpaid sales tax due the Commonwealth by over $178,000.

A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Patel on April 8, 2010. Yesterday, Patel was arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court and released on personal recognizance. She is due back in court on June 2, 2010, for a pre-trial conference.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Michael Pine of Attorney General Martha Coakley's Corruption and Fraud Division with assistance from investigator Christine Slingerland of DOR's Criminal Investigations Unit.