Hamburg restaurant owner admits pocketing sales tax money

Sep 25, 2019

The owner of a Hamburg restaurant has pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny.

James Rath, 60, of Lake View will pay more than $40,000 in restitution. The state Department of Taxation and Finance says Rath admitted to pocketing salex tax money collected from customers rather than sending it to the tax department, as required by law. Those collections happened over a four-year span from March,1, 2014 to February 28, 2018.

Rath is the owner of Wanakah Grill on Pleasant Avenue in Lake View, which is a hamlet in the Town of Hamburg.

“Those who disregard their obligation to remit the sales tax they collect violate the trust of their customers, deprive the communities where they operate of revenue needed for vital services, and put similar businesses at a competitive disadvantage,” said New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Michael Schmidt, in a statement. “We will continue to work with all our law enforcement partners on these cases and thank the Erie County District Attorney for prosecuting this one.”

Along with paying restitution, Rath could face up to a year in prison at sentencing on Dec. 17.