Ajay Choudhary, 38, of Levittown was arrested on multiple felony charges Tuesday morning by district attorney investigators. He pleaded not guilty at an arraignment inside Nassau First District in Hempstead on Tuesday afternoon.
Prosecutors said Choudhary owned six Papa John’s pizza franchises in Nassau County and between May 31, 2005 and August 31, 2012, his stores “collected sales tax from customers but failed to remit more than $800,000 of that tax revenue to New York State.” Choudhary also stands accused of submitting falsified quarterly tax returns, in which prosecutors said he “under-reported sales at his restaurants.”
Choudhary currently owns stores in Hicksville, Valley Stream, Uniondale, Freeport and Inwood. He is the former owner of a Farmingdale Papa John’s store as well, prosecutors said. An investigation by the district attorney’s office, New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and Papa John’s International, Inc., yielded Choudhary’s arrest.
“Mr. Choudhary made a victim out of every New Yorker when he stole taxpayer money that is earmarked to fund the operation of our state and its essential programs,” District Attorney Rice said.
In a statement, Thomas Mattox, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance commended District Attorney Rice for swift prosecution and said “By partnering to investigate cases of sales tax evasion, we are ensuring a level playing field for the vast majority of businesses that comply with their tax responsibilities.”
Choudhary was charged with second-degree grand larceny, three counts of second-degree criminal tax fraud and 19 counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. He posted $100,000 bond after being arraigned Tuesday at First District Court in Hempstead, according to court records.
If convicted, Choudhary faces up to 15 years in prison. He is due back in court on Friday and could not be reached for comment, as of this writing.