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Middletown Man Sent To Prison For Tax Fraud

Francisco Velez, 43
Francisco Velez, 43 Photo Credit: Orange County District Attorney's Office

A Middletown man was sentenced to 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 years in prison, plus ordered to pay more than $58,000 in restitution for tax fraud, according to Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler.

Francisco Velez, 43, who was sentenced Monday, pleaded guilty in December 2016 to criminal tax fraud, admitting to the court that he failed to turn over sales and excise taxes due from his Middletown cigar store. He also never paid state or his personal income tax, the DA's office said.

In total, he owes $58,948.77 in taxes of which he was required to pay $25,000 on Monday.

Velez, the owner of OC Tobacco, Inc., which did business as the Havana House Cigar Lounge in Middletown, was first busted when a regulatory inspection by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance revealed that there were over 3,500 untaxed cigars in the store. Subsequent investigations revealed that Velez had underreported not only his tobacco taxes but his sales and personal income taxes as well.

“Protecting the taxpayers’ money is a high priority,” said Hoovler. “Although no one enjoys paying taxes, those who illegally engage in tax evasion place an undue burden on those law-abiding taxpayers who do pay their fair share. I commend the Criminal Investigations Division of the New York State Tax Department for their investigation of this case and their assistance during the prosecution.”

The case was prosecuted by Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher Borek.

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