From The Tribune Staff Reports
MONTGOMERY — Attorney General Steve Marshall announced on Thursday, October 14, the convictions of two convenience store operators for willfully failing to pay sales taxes. Simon Njuku, 45, of Irondale, managed Betty Foodmart on U.S. Highway 280 in Childersburg; and Mehryar Nasseri, 44, of New Market, owned and operated Sunoco on Winchester Road in Huntsville. Both men pleaded guilty this morning in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
Njuku and Nasseri each admitted that they routinely underreported their convenience stores’ gross sales in order to reduce their tax bill. Under state law, businesses must report and pay sales taxes to the Alabama Department of Revenue on a monthly basis. However, the Alabama Department of Revenue investigation revealed that these convenience store operators underreported their sales—and reduced their tax bill—each month for nearly three years, between January 2016 and December 2018. The investigation revealed that Njuku underpaid his business sales tax by $20,454.58, and Nasseri underpaid his business sales tax by $73,499.82.
In both cases, the Court imposed a reverse split sentence. The defendants were ordered first to serve a term of three years’ probation, followed by two years imprisonment, which the Court has the discretion to suspend upon completion of probation. The defendants also were ordered to pay full restitution as well as interest and penalties. Njuku must pay $13,765.05 in addition to making restitution for the $20,454.58. Nasseri must pay $48,815.10 in addition to making restitution for the $73,499.82.
Attorney General Marshall commended his Special Prosecutions Division for its prosecution of this case, noting in particular Assistant Attorneys General Peggy Rossmanith and Nathan Mays, and thanked the Alabama Department of Revenue for its investigation and referral of the matter.