October 18, 2021

Restaurant owners plead guilty to new charges

Harry Tony's, Dark Horse Tavern, and A Pizza and more storefronts

Emily Au/contributing photographer

A Pizza & More, Hairy Tony's Pub, and Dark Horse Tavern are shown in this Cortland Standard file photo.

Two owners of six restaurants in the greater Cortland area have pleaded guilty to new charges concerning their failure to pay sales taxes on $4 million in sales over five years, wrapping up a case that was first announced in December 2019.

George Seibel of Homer and Anthony Caruso of Cortland and the parent companies of their businesses — Dark Horse Tavern, A Pizza and More, Hairy Tony’s and Dasher’s Corner Pub pleaded guilty Friday, the state Attorney General’s Office and state Department of Taxation and Finance announced.

The defendants repaid the $479,203.03 they owed to New York, the state reports.

“We will not allow anyone to get away with stealing from the state’s coffers,” Attorney General James said in a news release. “These guilty pleas ensure that these establishments finally pony up the cash they illegally pocketed and rein in their dishonest behavior.”

A joint investigation by the two state agencies found that between 2010 and 2015, Seibel and Caruso underreported more than $4 million in taxable sales, and failed to remit more than $475,000 in sales tax collected from their six restaurants and bars in Cortland and Onondaga counties.

Seibel and Caruso registered APAM, LLC with New York state and subsequently opened three pizzerias named A Pizza and More, in Cortland, Homer and Tully.

Caruso individually registered Anthony Caruso, LLC and opened Hairy Tony’s, a pub in Cortland. Seibel registered James & Main, LLC and opened Dasher’s Corner Pub, a pub and restaurant in Homer.

Seibel individually registered Academy Avenue Enterprises Inc. and opened Dark Horse Tavern in Cortland.

On Friday, before Judge Gerald Keene in Cortland County Court, Seibel pleaded guilty to two counts of fifth-degree criminal tax fraud — a Class A misdemeanor — for failure to submit sales tax revenue for APAM and Dark Horse Tavern.

Also Friday, Caruso pleaded guilty to two counts of the same charge concerning APAM and Hairy Tony’s.

Academy Avenue Enterprises Inc. and Anthony Caruso, LLC also pleaded guilty Friday to one count of the same charge regarding the Dark Horse Tavern and Hairy Tony’s.

All sales tax owed by Dark Horse and Hairy Tony’s have been paid in full. Seibel and Caruso were both sentenced to one-year conditional discharges.

In December 2019, APAM pleaded guilty before Keene to third-degree criminal tax fraud — a Class D felony — and paid all sales tax owed in full.

Seibel and James & Main, LLC each also pleaded guilty in December 2019 before Homer Town Justice William J. Foley to fifth-degree criminal tax fraud for failure to remit sales tax concerning Dasher’s Corner Pub.

All sales tax owed by Dasher’s Corner Pub has been paid in full, and Seibel was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge.

Caruso paid $10,000 on Aug. 26, 2015, to the Department of Taxation and Finance and Caruso and Seibel jointly paid $469,203.05 to the department on Nov. 15, 2019, though the payments did not cover penalties, interest or other money that could have been sought by the state, according to a plea bargain on the table in December 2019.