Former Pier’s and Blake owner Stuart Bannatyne charged with tax fraud
Stuart Bannatyne, former owner of Piers and Blake Restaurant in Utica, was charged with felony tax fraud Friday, March 3, 2017, prosecutors said.
Stuart Bannatyne, who purchased the former Doyle Hardware building in late 2007, and his company, 330 Main Street LLC, have been charged with failing to remit $25,000 in sales tax.
UTICA — The former owner of Pier’s and Blake restaurant and the Doyle Hardware building at 330 Main St. is facing several felony tax charges, including fraud and grand larceny.
Stuart Bannatyne — who purchased the building for $450,000 in late 2007 from David Doyle and planned to build a restaurant, commercial space and loft apartments — and his company, 330 Main Street LLC, have been indicted on charges of failing to file state sales tax returns and failure to remit more than $25,000 in sales tax, the state Attorney General’s office said Friday.
Bannatyne, who could not be reached for comment Friday, was the owner and operator of Pier’s and Blake, a restaurant and bar in the building, which opened Feb. 1, 2011, according to the Attorney General’s office, and remained open until January 2014.
The attorney general’s office said that an investigation by the state Department of Taxation and Finance’s Criminal Investigation Division found Bannatyne filed only one sales tax return during that three-year period, which was for the restaurant’s first quarter ending Feb. 28, 2011, and reported zero sales. Sales tax returns must be filed and collected sales tax remitted on a quarterly basis.
The investigation also concluded that between March 1, 2011, and Feb. 28, 2014, the restaurant made more than $290,000 in credit card sales and collected $25,464.13 in sales tax that Bannatyne failed to remit to the state.
An Oneida County grand jury handed up a four-count indictment charging Bannatyne and 330 Main Street LLC with:
* Third-degree grand larceny: stemming from the allegation that between March 1, 2011, and about March 20, 2014, he stole property having a value in excess of $3,000 from the state Department of Taxation and Finance.
* Third-degree criminal tax fraud: stemming from the allegation that between March 21, 2011, and about March 20, 2012, he committed a tax fraud act with the intent to defraud the state, and paid the state in excess of $10,000 less than the tax liability that was due.
* Fourth-degree criminal tax fraud: stemming from the allegation that between March 21, 2012, and about March 20, 2013, he committed a tax fraud act with the intent to defraud the state, and paid the state in excess of $3,000 less than the tax liability that was due.
* Fifth-degree criminal tax fraud: stemming from the allegation that between March 21, 2013, and about March 21, 2014, he committed a tax fraud act or acts.
“Paying taxes goes hand in hand with owning and operating a business — and every business owner should know that,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “My office will continue fighting to root out tax fraud and prosecute those responsible for it.”
Bannatyne, who eventually declared bankruptcy in Connecticut, was arrested on a warrant in New Canaan, Conn., late last month and sent back to Oneida County, where he was arraigned Friday in Oneida County Court. Bail was set at $30,000 cash or bond. The next court date is scheduled for Friday, March 24.
As part of his bankruptcy plan, Bannatyne met a 2015 deadline to pay $330,000 to Doyle in order to retain ownership of the building. Records from the city Assessor’s Office indicate the property was sold to Circle 8 Development LLC for $1 on April 27, 2015.
In May, the hulking 82,000-square-foot building and parking lot was sold from Circle 8 Development LLC to Doyle Hardware LLC for $1.1 million, where Summit Commercial Real Estate Group out of Syracuse has been working to redevelop the site. The building is situated on 1.16 acres and is listed on the state and National Register of Historic Places, allowing it to be part of certain state tax programs.
Jeffrey Foster, executive vice president and principal broker with the company, said in December that plans for the site include 57 apartments on the top three floors and retail/commercial space on the first floor.
“We want to do it as quickly as we can,” Foster said in August, “but we don’t want to rush and make mistakes and do things in haste.”
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