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A former Amherst businessman who tried to avoid paying taxes by stashing hundreds of thousands of dollars in banks in Italy and Malta is facing prison time after taking a plea deal in U.S. District Court.

Barry S. Cohn, 55, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of filing a false tax return. Prosecutors said he failed to report $462,000 in sales commissions from his job as president of Spectrum International Sales on John Glenn Drive.

Criminal investigators for the Buffalo District of the Internal Revenue Service discovered that Cohn, who now lives in Jupiter, Fla., was hiding income in foreign bank accounts. Agents said Cohn made the income by selling Italian-made automobile parts.

"The investigation showed he failed to report $284,000 income in tax year 1994 and $178,000 income from tax year 1993," Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc S. Gromis said. "He avoided paying a total of $143,000 in taxes."

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara scheduled sentencing for December, and, under federal sentencing guidelines, Cohn faces at least 15 months in prison, Gromis said.

Michael Antonelli of Grand Island, one of Cohn's sales employees, previously accepted a plea deal and admitted he failed to report $53,000 in income, authorities said.

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