A Hudson Valley cigar shop owner failed to pay nearly $60,000 in tobacco, sales and income taxes.

On Monday, 43-year-old Francisco Velez of Pine Bush was sentenced to 1 to 4.5 years in prison for criminal tax fraud.

Velez admitted he committed criminal tax fraud acts with the intent to evade taxes and failed to pay proper income taxes.

Velez, the owner and operator of OC Tobacco, Inc., which did business as the Havana House Cigar Lounge on Main Street in the City of Middletown, was ordered to pay $58,948.77 owned in back taxes.

During an inspection, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance learned that there were over 3,500 untaxed cigars in the store. A follow-up investigation revealed that Velez had underreported not only his tobacco taxes but his sales and personal income taxes as well, officials say.

“Protecting the taxpayers’ money is a high priority,” Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said. “Although no one enjoys paying taxes, those who illegally engage in tax evasion place an undue burden on those law-abiding taxpayers who do pay their fair share.”

Following his plea of guilty to the felony tax charge, Velez failed to return to court and was charged with bail jumping. He pleaded guilty to bail jumping in August 2017 and was sentenced to 1 year in prison.

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