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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
January 20, 2006

Office of The Attorney General
- Nancy Kaplen, Acting Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director

 

John R. Hagerty
609-984-1936

 

Monmouth County Attorney/businessman Sentenced to 4 Years in Jail and Ordered to Pay $4.8 Million after Pleading Guilty to Tax Fraud
Division of Criminal Justice and Division of Taxation Target Tax Fraud

TRENTON — Division of Criminal Justice Director Vaughn L. McKoy and Robert Thompson, Director, New Jersey Division of Taxation, today announced that a joint-agency investigation targeting the willful failure to pay state/federal withholding and sales taxes has resulted in a Monmouth County attorney/businessman being sentenced to four years in state prison and ordered to pay the state and federal governments $4.8 million in unpaid taxes, penalties, and interest.

“This successful prosecution targeted the willful, deliberate, and blatant actions of an attorney-turned-businessman who withheld millions of dollars from the state treasury by hiding various business interests to avoid paying withholding and sales taxes,” said Criminal Justice Director McKoy.

Taxation Director Thompson said, “The outcome of this case is testament to the cooperation among several agencies on an egregious crime of fraud. Taxation is gratified that the interagency collaboration resulted in a conviction of this magnitude. "

According to Assistant Attorney General Andrew Rossner, Deputy Director, Division of Criminal Justice, Michael J. Buonopane, 45, Hill Pond Lane, Rumson, Monmouth County, was today sentenced by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Francis P. DeStefano to four years in state prison and ordered to pay $4.8 million in back taxes, interest, and penalties. Buonopane was also ordered to surrender his license to practice law and a CPA license.

The Division of Criminal Justice noted that Buonopane pleaded guilty on June 3, 2005 to tax fraud charges of misapplication of entrusted property, filing false or fraudulent New Jersey income tax returns, and failure to file New Jersey corporate business tax returns. Buonopane was charged with the theft of $2,074,362 in federal withholding taxes, $2,014,386 in New Jersey sales taxes, $654,055 in unemployment/disability taxes, and $106,012 in state gross income withholding taxes.

The criminal charges resulted from a 25-count State Grand Jury indictment returned on Nov. 30, 2004. The indictment followed an extensive tax fraud investigation initiated by auditors and agents assigned to the Department of Labor & Workforce Development in December, 2003 which targeted Buonopane’s failure to forward unemployment and disability insurance monies to Labor & Workforce Development.

The State Grand Jury indictment charged that from January, 1999 - January, 2004, Buonopane, the owner/operator of 20 car servicing businesses (car wash and auto repair/service facilities) located in Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex, Union, Essex, and Morris counties, failed to pay federal and state taxes -- tax monies that were withheld from employee wages and retained by Buonopane. The investigation determined that in 1988, Buonopane purchased Mr. Good Lube, Inc., an auto repair facility located in Freehold, Monmouth County. It was charged that over ten years Buonopane, listed in official documents as the incorporator, registered agent and President of Mr. Good Lube, Inc., expanded the business to include 14 Mr. Good Lube garages and six car wash facilities located in six New Jersey counties. Buonopane failed to reveal ownership interests and/or register the car wash and auto service businesses with appropriate state regulatory agencies; ignored requests to file required reports with Labor & Workforce Development; failed to remit withholding and state sales tax payments; and failed to file state and federal tax returns.

A list of Buonopane’s auto service businesses include:

  • Buonopane Corporate Office, 400 West Main St., Freehold, Monmouth County;
  • Mr. Good Lube 10 Minute Oil Change, 380 Route 9 North, Englishtown, Monmouth County;
  • Mr. Good Lube 10 Minute Oil Change, One Broadway, Freehold, Monmouth County;
  • Mr. Good Lube 10 Minute Oil Change and Country Sudser Car Wash Center,
    4629 Route 9 North, Howell, Monmouth County;
  • Mr. Good Lube 10 Minute Oil Change and Country Sudser Car Wash,
    1898-1900 Highway 35 South, Middletown, Monmouth County;
  • Mr. Good Lube 10 Minute Oil Change, 942 Route 34, Matawan, Monmouth County;
  • Country Sudser Car Wash, 470 Highway 36 North, Highlands, Monmouth County;
  • Mr. Good Lube 10 Minute Oil Change, 473 Broad St., Shrewsbury, Monmouth County;
  • Mr. Good Lube 10 Minute Oil Change, 5 Main St., Chester, Morris County;
  • Flanders Country Sudser Car Wash, 286 Route 206, Flanders, Morris County;
  • Mr. Good Lube 10 Minute Oil Change, 609 Route 18 South, East Brunswick, Middlesex County;
  • Mr. Good Lube 10 Minute Oil Change, 3974 Route 1 North, South Brunswick, Middlesex County;
  • Mr. Good Lube 10 Minute Oil Change, 200 South Avenue West, Westfield, Union County;
  • Mr. Good Lube 10 Minute Oil Change and Country Sudser Car Wash,
    1045 Cedar Bridge Avenue, Brick, Ocean County;
  • Country Sudser Car Wash, 1888 West County Line Road, Lakewood, Ocean County;
  • Mr. Good Lube 10 Minute Oil Change, 1712 Springfield Ave., Maplewood, Essex County;
  • Mr. Good Lube 10 Minute Oil Change, 347 Broad St., Bloomfield, Essex County;
  • Mr. Good Lube 10 Minute Oil Change, 210 South Livingston Ave., Livingston, Essex County.

“This investigation uncovered the single-largest criminal tax fraud scam perpetrated by a single individual in recent history,” said Deputy Director Rossner. “The prosecution and resulting guilty plea uncovered evidence that Buonopane intentionally evaded state tax regulations in order to keep the money and to live a lavish lifestyle in a three million dollar Rumson mansion - a lifestyle maintained on the backs of minimum-wage employees and honest New Jersey taxpayers.”

The investigation and prosecution included the cooperation of several state agencies, including the Department of the Treasury, Division of Taxation - Office of Criminal Investigations, the Division of Criminal Justice - Financial Crimes Bureau, the Department of Labor & Workforce Development, and the Office of Government Integrity.

Division of Taxation Chief Investigator Susan Kane, Richard Mawer, Assistant Chief Investigator, Division of Taxation, and State Investigators Robert Walker and Ray Gardner of the Division of Criminal Justice - Financial Crimes Bureau, coordinated the investigation. Auditors Debra Lewaine and Kevin Curry of the Division of Taxation - Office of Criminal Investigation, and Investigators Howard Solomon and Michael DeTroia, Labor & Workforce Development - Division of Employer Accounts, provided additional investigative and auditing assistance. Supervising Deputy Attorney General Frank Brady, Deputy Attorney Denise Grugan, Division of Criminal Justice - Financial Crimes Bureau and Deputy Attorney General Nancy Faust, Office of Government Integrity, coordinated the prosecution and presented the case to the State Grand Jury.

A copy of the State Grand Jury indictment and related documents are available via the Division of Criminal Justice Web site at www.njdcj.org.

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