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OTR Seeks Criminal Prosecution in Sales Tax Evasion Case

Thursday, August 10, 2000

A DC restaurant owner was arraigned this week in District of Columbia Superior Court on 20 counts of failing to report or pay sales taxes.

Jacqueline Rocha, owner of the Mobay Café in Adams Morgan, was arraigned August 7 before Judge Cheryl Long. An investigation by the DC Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR) indicated that Ms. Rocha did not file or pay sales tax for the establishment for more than two years, and owes over $50,000 in unpaid sales tax.

The Rocha case represents the first significant effort by OTR to seek criminal prosecution for sales tax evasion. Previously, most cases of this nature had been handled civilly through audit and collection programs.

“We are becoming much more aggressive in our investigation and pursuit of business tax scofflaws,” said Herbert J. Huff, Deputy Chief Financial Officer for Tax and Revenue. “This is a serious area of concern that represents potentially millions of dollars in lost revenue to the District.”

“Sales tax evasion represents theft from the District and impacts our ability to provide vital services to citizens,” added Lee Monks, Director of Operations for OTR.

Rocha entered a plea of not guilty to the charges and asked for a jury trial. If convicted, she could face a total of 34 years in jail and $170,000 in fines. A trial date has not been set.