The president of a used luxury car dealership in San Juan Capistrano is accused of filing fraudulent tax returns and failing to pay more than $1.3 million in sales taxes, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA).
John Joseph Paradise, 53, of San Clemente, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Santa Ana Central Jail Thursday afternoon to six felony counts of making a false and fraudulent return over $25,000 tax liability with sentencing enhancement allegations for property damage over $1.3 million and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000.
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A conviction could send Paradise to state prison for 14 years and four months, according to the OCDA, which had announced before the hearing that Senior Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche of the Major Fraud Unit would request $1.3 million bail and proof that bond money came from a legal and legitimate source before it could be posted.
As president and corporate officer of Paradise Automotive Group between Jan. 1, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2014, Paradise was the signatory on the business' sales tax returns, but the versions submitted to the State Board of Equalization (BOE) were fraudulent, the OCDA alleges.
A discrepancy in the sales figures and sales taxes collected by Paradise and reported to the California Department of Motor Vehicles--which was substantially higher than the basis for the sales taxes he paid--led to a BOE investigation and the resulting criminal charges, according to the OCDA.