The Maredia brothers have repaid more than $600,000 of the $1.2 million in sales tax receipts that they owe the state, allowing them to receive a sentence of five years on probation — so they can repay the rest of the money.
Ilias Maredia, 53, and Latif Maredia, 51, appeared for perhaps the final time in Erie County Court on Wednesday afternoon to conclude a case that has been going on for two and a half years. The brothers were indicted in July 2014 on charges that they kept $1.22 million in sales tax money collected at seven gas station/convenience stores that they owned in Erie County.
Since then, they have chipped away at the restitution and had 19 court dates, including an appearance in May when they pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the first degree, a Class B felony. At that time, Judge Sheila A. DiTullio told them they could withdraw their pleas before they were sentenced and admit to a lesser charge if they repaid half of the money by then.
With a couple of reschedulings to give them more time, the Maredias were able to meet their goal, turning over about $612,000 so far.
In exchange, the judge allowed them to plead guilty to grand larceny in the second degree, a Class C felony, and ordered the probation, with the rest of the money to be repaid over five years.
Ilias Maredia told the judge he hoped it wouldn’t take that long.
“I would like to repay this as fast as I can and get on with my life,” he said.
The brothers now live in Stafford, Texas. Ilias Maredia’s attorney James Milbrand said that he was “astonished” that the men have been able to repay so much money so quickly, and Latif’s lawyer, Brian M. Melber concurred and pointed out that their clients are doing “what everyone agrees in the goal, paying full restitution.”
They are making their money by buying and selling commercial real estate, he said.
Assistant District Attorney Gary M. Ertel, who prosecuted the case with Holly Tucker, said that the men reinvested most of the unremitted sales tax money in their businesses, and that they no longer have any business interests in New York. He said he understands that their Texas businesses are mostly hotels.
Ertel also said this was one of the largest restitution agreements his office has seen.
The men have been free for the past two years on $200,000 cash bond, and while DiTullio said she was pleased with their ability and willingness to pay restitution, it does not forgive the actions that brought them before her.
“It was over a million dollars that was not paid,” the judge said. “That’s a lot of money.”
Story topics: Erie County Court