Anthony Wabeh, 53, of Skokie was charged with six felony counts for underreporting gasoline sales at his four Rockford-area gasoline stations between June 2008 and February 2011, according to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office, which brought the charges.
His actions defrauded the state of Illinois of $180,000 in sales tax revenue due to it, according to a press release from Madigan's office. Wabeh, who owns TWI Petro Group, was charged with one count of mail fraud and five counts of filing a fraudulent state tax return, all class 3 felonies.
Similarly, Gurmeet Bhola, 56, of Lincolnwood and owner of Bhola Gas & Food in Sauk Village, was charged with two counts of mail fraud and 31 counts of filing a fraudulent state tax return, all Class 3 felonies punishable by two to five years in prison.
Bhola is charged with a scheme to defraud the state out of more than $500,000 in taxes between January 2007 and July 2012.
Two other defendants, Nawaz Mirza of Lombar and Samson Kadamandla of Chicago, were also charged.
Madigan's office and the Illinois Department of Revenue announced the charges.
“The defendants have illegally profited at the expense of the state and Illinois taxpayers,” Madigan said. “This round of indictments demonstrates our standing commitment to hold dishonest business owners accountable for committing state tax fraud.”
“I have been pleased to see that courts around the state have imposed increasingly tough sanctions on individuals who file false tax returns and defraud the state of taxes on behalf of gas stations,” said Revenue Director Brian Hamer.
Defendants Bhola, Kadamandla and Mirza were arrested and freed on bond. Wabeh was arraigned earlier today and was freed on bond.
The crackdown on gas station owners, now in its third year, has led to a new law in Illinois to penalize these criminals. The law, which was an initiative of Madigan’s office and took effect in January, established stronger penalties and strengthened prosecutors’ ability to pursue Illinois businesses and retailers that evade remitting sales taxes to the state. The law created the new crime of sales tax evasion and imposed graduated penalties based on the amount of sales taxes that were evaded.