A Utica liquor store owner faces 22 felony charges for allegedly keeping sales taxes which should have been remitted to the government.

James Street Liquor owner Manuel Mendez, 61, faces charges including grand larceny, criminal tax fraud and offering a false instrument for filing.

The state Department of Taxation and Finance claims Mendez collected more than $70,000 in sales taxes from customers between 2013 and 2015 but kept the money.

''Collecting but failing to remit sales tax dollars boil down to stealing from the state and local communities that depend on this revenue stream to fund critical public programs and services,'' Acting Tax Commissioner Nonie Manion said in a news released from the state tax department. ''It's a crime that won't be tolerated,'' Manion said.

Mendez has pleaded not guilty and was released. He faces up to 15-years in prison if convicted on all charges, officials said.

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