An Ohio man was sentenced to one year of probation, including six months of home confinement, in federal court Monday after pleading guilty to charges of aiding and assisting in the presentation of a false quarterly federal excise tax (FET) return in December.
John J. Lalonde, 53, of Grove City, Ohio, has also been ordered to pay $165,000 in restitution to the IRS.
Federal investigators say that while employed at Fyda Freightliner in Columbus, Ohio, Lalonde, who specialized in the sale of customized expeditor trucks, “structured sales and the attendant sales paperwork of the customized expeditor trucks in order to make it appear that customers purchased trucks and then customized them,” according to the IRS.
The IRS requires a 12% FET on the first retail sale of a truck weighing more than 33,000 pounds. If a dealership customizes an expeditor truck by installing an additional lift axle, which significantly increases the weight of the truck, they are required to pay the FET.
However, if a customer purchases a truck weighing less than 33,000 pounds, then customizes it, the buyer is responsible for paying the FET.
Court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio allege that “Lalonde and Fyda were responsible for the customizations and should have paid the FET.”
“This defendant went to great lengths to avoid the Federal Excise Tax laws, but in the end, he is a convicted felon and owes the IRS for the unpaid excise taxes,” said Bryant Jackson, special agent in charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office, in a statement.
Gary Tiffan, general manager of Fyda Freightliner, told FreightWaves that Lalonde is no longer employed at the dealership, but he declined further comment.
Lalonde was able to undercut Fyda Freightliner’s competitors by selling the customized expeditor trucks for approximately $20,000 less by not paying the FET, according to court documents.
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