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Owners of Desperado's BBQ in Angola guilty of keeping $56,000 in sales tax

The owners of a Desperado's BBQ in Angola pleaded guilty to walking away with more than $56,000 in sales tax rather than sending it to New York State.

Shelly Firsch Hunt, 56, and William J. Francis, 65, both of Angola, pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny, a felony, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

The joint operators failed to file 13 sales tax returns and remit more than $56,000 in sales taxes collected from their customers to New York State, according to an investigation by the department's Criminal Investigations Division.

The restaurant serves slow-smoked ribs, chicken, pulled pork and Texas brisket, according to its website.

“Restaurants and all other businesses that pocket sales taxes violate the trust of their customers, deprive their communities and the state of vital tax revenue, and shift the tax burden on to honest businesses,” Acting Tax Commissioner Nonie Manion said. “We thank the Erie County District Attorney’s Office for assisting us with the investigation and prosecuting this case.”

Hunt and Francis are scheduled to be sentenced July 11 in Erie County Court. They could face prison sentences of up to seven years.

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