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Owner of Amherst restaurant pleads guilty to federal tax fraud

The owner of the widely known Tandoori’s Restaurant of Amherst pleaded guilty Wednesday to underreporting gross receipts of the business on corporate tax returns for 2010 and 2011.

Ravi Sabharwal, 58, of Clarence, pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Court Judge William M. Skretny to filing a false tax return. Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell T. Ippolito Jr. said Sabharwal could face up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 when sentenced Aug. 6.

In late 2012, Sabharwal tried to sell Tandoori’s and two related businesses by listing the businesses with a broker, the prosecutor said. Between October 2012 and March 2013, undercover agents from the criminal investigation division of the Internal Revenue Service posed as interested buyers. During talks with them, Sabharwal said he had significantly underreported gross receipts and taxable income for the restaurant on corporate tax returns, Ippolito said.

Sabharwal told the undercover agents he was able to do this by not running receipts of one of the related businesses through the restaurant’s cash register and by not depositing all business receipts in his business bank accounts, Ippolito said.

On Oct. 7, 2012, Sabharwal told his accountant to list gross receipts for 2011 as $738,358 with a tax due on that of $4,686. The prosecutor said IRS agents confirmed that actual restaurant receipts for 2011 were $1,052,372.89, with taxes due of $48,952. For 2010, Sabharwal had also underreported restaurant receipts so that he would not have to pay $95,063 in corporate taxes, Ippolito said.

Sabharwal could not be reached to comment after his guilty plea.