The owner of two auto collision repair shops in Nassau County was sentenced to six months in jail Wednesday in a tax fraud case.
Jose Cardona of Oceanside, who has already paid more than $700,000 in restitution to the state, was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation by Acting Supreme Court Justice Meryl Berkowitz, after pleading guilty to felony tax fraud charges, according to a statement from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office.
Cardona was the owner and operator of No Limit Auto Body, Inc., also known as Perry’s Hub Auto Care, at 10 Jerusalem Ave. in Hempstead, and Henry Street Auto Body, Inc., also known as No Limit Auto Body II, located at 110 Henry St. in Freeport. A joint investigation by the AG’s Office Auto Insurance Fraud Unit and the Department of Taxation and Finance found that Cardona and No Limit Auto Body collected but failed to remit to New York State more than $584,000 in sales taxes between June 2010 and May 2016, and that Cardona and Henry Street Auto Body collected but failed to remit more than $117,000 in sales tax between June 2011 and November 2015, according to the statement.
“When individuals and businesses line their pockets with tax money, they steal services and resources from New Yorkers,” AG James said in the statement. “Jose Cardona and his businesses took advantage of taxpayers and tried to cheat our state out of over half a million dollars. I thank DTF and Acting Commissioner Hiller for their partnership and coordination to address this crime and carry out justice. My office will continue to protect New York taxpayers and ensure public resources are used for their intended purposes.”
In addition to sales tax fraud, Cardona and his wife Veronica Cardona were both charged with filing a false personal income tax return for 2011 and failing to file personal income tax returns for 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, underpaying more than $204,000 in personal income taxes. Veronica Cardona had previously pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor false filing charge related to the fraudulent personal income tax return.
Prosecutors previously charged No Limit employee Peter Bifolco with felony insurance fraud for adding additional damage to a car brought to the shop and then billing more than $3,000 in unnecessary repairs. Bifolco pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of criminal mischief in the fourth degree.
Both of Cardona’s businesses pleaded guilty to one count of tax fraud and No Limit Auto Body also pleaded guilty to one count of falsifying business records. The defendants were previously sentenced to a conditional discharge.
“By fraudulently disregarding his tax obligations, Mr. Cardona violated the trust of his customers, deprived his own community of revenue needed for vital programs and services, and put other businesses at a competitive disadvantage,” Acting Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Amanda Hiller said in the statement. “I thank the attorney general for her work on this case. We’ll continue to work with all levels of law enforcement to bring tax criminals to justice.”
This case was investigated by the Tax Department’s Criminal Investigations Division and referred to the AG’s office for further investigation and prosecution.
The Attorney General’s Office thanked the Tax Department, New York State Department of Financial Services, National Insurance Crime Bureau, and GEICO Insurance for their assistance in the investigation.