June 06–GOSHEN — The owner of a local topsoil and trucking company pleaded guilty on Monday to defrauding the state of sales tax revenue and to illegally allowing the dumping of construction debris on his business property.
Raymond Otte, 55, must pay the state Tax Department $67,846 in restitution and forfeit $15,000 as a condition of his guilty plea. In exchange for Otte’s plea, Assistant District Attorney Lara Morrison told Judge Robert Freehill in Orange County Court that prosecutors will recommend a sentence of probation.
Whether the term is three, four or five years of probation will be at Freehill’s discretion.
Otte’s lawyer, Michael Sussman, said his client has started to pay the restitution.
Otte owns A Thru Z Trucking and A Thru Z Farms on Route 6 in Slate Hill. On July 29, 2015, police from the Department of Environmental Conservation spent hours investigating at the property, but the agency stayed mum on the investigation.
As Morrison questioned him in court, Otte admitted that he failed to give the state tax authority its portion of the $136,848 in sales tax he collected between Jan. 1, 2012 and July 14, 2015. He also admitted to underpaying his personal income taxes.
Otte also admitted that between March 1-March 31, 2015 he allowed other companies’ trucks to illegally dump construction and demolition debris on the property, knowing that was illegal and that the debris contained some substances harmful to safety or the environment.
Otte pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal tax fraud, a felony under state Tax Law; and endangering public health, safety or the environment, a misdemeanor under state Environmental Conservation Law.
Otte remains free without bail, with sentencing scheduled for Nov. 13. If Otte fails to pay the restitution, Freehill could sentence him to six months in jail plus five years of probation. Otte will also be required to clean up his property under DEC supervision.
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