A Utica liquor store owner has been sentenced for sales tax evasion.

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance says 61-year old Manuel Mendez pleaded guilty in Oneida County Court to criminal tax fraud

Mendez was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay nearly $59,000 in restitution.

Mendez, who owns James Street Liquor, was charged in April with filing false sales tax returns.

He was also charged with failing to pay more than $70,000 in sales tax he collected from his customers from 2012 through 2015.

“Sales tax evasion is a serious crime, one that puts honest businesses at a disadvantage and deprives communities and New York State the revenue needed for vital services,” said Acting Tax Commissioner Nonie Manion. “We thank the Oneida County District Attorney for prosecuting this case.”

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