Used Car Dealer From Freehold Gets 3 Years For Sales Tax Fraud

TRENTON, NJ — A Freehold man who operated used car dealerships in Toms River has been sentenced to three years in prison for failing to turn over state sales tax to the state of New Jersey, the state Attorney General's office said.

James J. Colapinto, 54, of Freehold, was sentenced Friday to three years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Michael T. Collins in Ocean County on counts of by failure to make required disposition of property received and failure to turn over collected tax, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.

Colapinto, who was president of Dan Cola, Inc., which formerly operated two used car dealerships in Toms River, including Central Auto Sales on Route 9, pleaded guilty to the charges on Aug. 24, 2018. In his plea, Colapinto admitted he failed to turn over approximately $185,000 in sales tax he collected at his two car dealerships from 2012 through 2015. He also deliberately underreported the sales tax he collected during those years.

Under the plea agreement, he must pay the Division of Taxation $200,000, representing restitution of $185,000 for the sales tax he failed to remit, plus $15,000 in interest and penalties. Colapinto paid $49,000 of the total at sentencing Friday.

In addition to the state taxation case, Colapinto was sentenced in a separate criminal case that was brough by the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office. In that case, Colapinto pleaded guilty to defrauding a commercial lender that loaned him money for his car dealerships. The plea in that case was part of a resolution of the two criminal cases, and on Friday he was sentenced to three years in state prison on that charge, with the sentence to run concurrently with the sentence imposed in the tax case. Supervising Assistant Prosecutor William Scharfenberg prosecuted the case for the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

Deputy Attorney General Peter Gallagher prosecuted Colapinto for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau in the state taxation case.

The investigation began when the Division of Taxation conducted an audit of DanCola, Inc., that revealed discrepancies in the company's sales tax reporting and payments.

"Colapinto repeatedly lied about how much sales tax he collected at his car dealerships," Grewal said. "This sentence sends a message that we will aggressively prosecute business owners who defraud the State of New Jersey by misrepresenting their tax obligations."

Special Agent Kyle Mullane of the Division of Taxation Office of Criminal Investigation and Detective Naike Casciano of the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau conducted the investigation.

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James Colapinto, photo via New Jersey Attorney General's Office

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