The California Supreme Court has declined to review the conviction of a used-car dealer in Riverside County, Calif., who was found guilty of sales tax fraud and filing false income tax returns after failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of transactions.
Yahya Dastmalchian had petitioned the high court to review the case after the state Court of Appeal upheld his guilty verdict.
There was ample evidence to support Dastmalchian's jury verdict, the state Court of Appeal ruled. One state auditor estimated Dastmalchian had conducted $968,000 worth of unreported sales from 1992 to 1996.
He was sentenced to one year in jail, followed by probation, said California Deputy Attorney Gen. Peter Quon Jr.
The prosecution started with a random audit of Dastmalchian's dealership, Logical Operation, according to the decision. During the inquiry, Dastmalchian claimed many of his sales and inventory records had been stolen. His secretary told investigators that bank statements and other documents couldn't be located, although his accountant provided many of them at trial.
At trial, Dastmalchian denied intentionally underpaying sales taxes and instead blamed "poor record keeping." He blamed his underreporting of income on a lack of tax law training, poor accounting procedures and his employees.
In upholding the conviction, the appeal court noted that former employees testified that Dastmalchian knew how much money he paid for cars, had exclusive control over the sales price of all cars sold, kept files on the cars sold and was very involved in every aspect of his business.
Moreover, the court said, "The jury apparently did not believe that he did not have records of his sales and income or that he did not intentionally provide false information on his income tax returns."
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