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Florida tire dealer sentenced on excise tax charges

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla.—A Coral Springs tire retailer has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison after pleading guilty to excise tax fraud.

Nestor Bastidas of Coral Springs was one of three co-conspirators in the case, according to Benjamin G. Greenberg, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Two co-conspirators also have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government and are awaiting sentencing.

According to the IRS and the U.S. attorney’s office, Mr. Bastidas owned and operated Fat Tires Co., a Coral Springs-based tire dealership.

Under federal law, tire importers are liable for excise tax when the tires are sold, according to Mr. Greenberg’s office. However, that tax may be refunded if the tires are sold overseas rather than in the U.S.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Mr. Bastidas purchased taxable tires from Banlu Inc. and Banlu Tires Inc., tire importing companies owned by an alleged co-conspirator, Angel Gomez.

International Trade-Logistics Services Inc., a logistics company owned by a third alleged co-conspirator, Luis Gomez, provided Mr. Bastidas with false bills of lading, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Those bills of sale stated falsely that the tires Mr. Bastidas bought from Banlu were exported to the Dominican Republic, the office said.

“[Mr.] Bastidas gave Angel Gomez the false bills of landing, and Angel Gomez did not charge [Mr.] Bastidas the excise taxes due on the tires,” the office said.

The IRS and Mr. Greenberg’s office estimated that the scheme cost the U.S. approximately $335,000 in excise taxes.

Mr. Bastidas pleaded guilty April 25. In the July 26 sentencing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge K. Michael Moore ordered the prison sentence, three years of supervised release and payment of $335,174 in restitution to the IRS.

Luis Gomez pleaded guilty May 23 to conspiracy to defraud the government and is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 8. Angel Gomez pleaded guilty to the same charge June 13 and is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 22.

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