6 gas station owners charged in sales-tax crackdown

Posted Aug. 19, 2010 at 12:50 p.m.

Six Illinois gas station owners have been indicted on charges of pocketing sales taxes customers paid when they fueled up.

The fraud investigation has recovered nearly $13 million in unpaid sales taxes, according to the Illinois attorney general’s office and state department of revenue. The indictments were the first in an ongoing probe of businesses that fail to pay taxes, Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan said Thursday. More charges against other tax frauds are expected in coming months, she said.

Station owners underreported the amount of gasoline and other goods they sold so they could pay less sales tax, authorities said. They “pocketed tens of millions of dollars that should be going to the state,” Madigan said. “Tax evaders — those who have broken the law — will not be tolerated,” she said.

The indictments should send a message, said John Chambers, chief of criminal investigation for the state revenue department. “We intend to pursue every case that we’ve uncovered and make sure Illinois businesses pay every penny of the sales tax they have collected from their customers.”

An investigation that began in 2008 has  collected $12.7 million from 66 gas station owners across the state.

Much of that was collected through a “voluntary disclosure compliance” program begun in October 2009. It gave owners the chance to file amended tax returns and pay money they owed. That was not a so-called amnesty — or forgiveness — program, and participating station owners  still could face criminal charges, Madigan said.

Officials said the investigation began as a result of an anonymous complaint. They are continuing to look into whether there is something systemic in the gas-station industry that encourages tax cheats.

Charged in the initial round of indictments were:

– Muzaffar Jameel, 47, of Harwood Heights, who operates two gas stations. One is a Mobil at 4000 N. Western Ave. in Chicago. The other is a Phillips 66 at 6001 W. 35th Ave. in Cicero. He was charged with 14 countes of sales tax fraud for the period November 2007 to December 2008.

– Joy Chemmachel, 47, of Skokie, who operates three stations: Hickory Hills Gas Depot, 8801 W. 87th St. in Hickory Hills; Dempster and Ozarth Shell at 7736 W. Dempster St. in Morton Grove, and Fullerton and Pulaski Shell at 3959 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. She was charged with 19 counts of sales tax fraud for the period November 2007 to May 2009.

– John Kottoor, 54, of Orland Park, and Joy Matthew Kottoor, 58, of Morton Grove. They operate Stickney Shell at 3901 S. Harlem Ave. Each was charged with 10 countes of sales tax fraud for the period November 2007 to September 2008.

– Abdelmomen Abdallah, 33, of Peoria, who operates Road Runner at 2412 N. Sheridan Rd. in Peoria. He was charged with 16 counts of sales tax fraud for the period November 2007 through February 2009.

– Dineshbhai Patel, 57, of Morton, who operates Shell at 2009 S. Main St. in Morton. He is charged with 16 counts of sales tax fraud for the period July 2007 through October 2009.

Those charged could not immediately be reached for comment. Each count of sales tax fraud can carry a prison sentence of two to five years.

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  1. James Aug. 19, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    What a big surprise, these tax cheats are immigrants. Yeah…diversity is really great…if one’s intention is to destroy America.

  2. V Aug. 19, 2010 at 2:36 pm


  3. Check_Subways Aug. 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    They should check on the subway deli. They normally get cash but do not issue receipts. ( especially the ones owned by Indians)

  4. Bones Aug. 19, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    James – that’s quite a ridiculous claim, how do you know they’re immigrants? Just because their name isn’t James, Tom or ****? You’re an idiot.

  5. john Aug. 19, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    So were these crimes discovered because the owner voluntarily gave up the information? And then Lisa Madigan charged them?

    If so, that’s typical Lisa Madigan investigative work. Just like how she goes around arresting *registered* sex offenders when she googles their address and finds out they live too close to a church. Even though they’re telling her where they are and aren’t posing a problem.

    Obviously, she’s all about the headline. Kinda like her dad.

  6. Joe Aug. 19, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Bones, don’t be naive. Use your head.

  7. COSMO Aug. 19, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    yeah Bones Don’t be an idiot.

  8. Joel Aug. 19, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Uh hello, Joe n Cosmo…all Americans are immigrants. How do you know these people aren’t born here? You two are being naive for such idiotic comments.

  9. Joe Aug. 19, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    James! So you think all native (born in the USA) americans file and pay taxes?? You are out of your mind!

  10. Marcus Twain Aug. 19, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    I once heard of these criminals who cheated endless people out of money. Wait….they were AmeriCANs. They worked for Enron.

  11. Marcus Twain Aug. 19, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    @joel: no, all American’s are not immigrants by the definition of “immigrant”.

  12. Matt Aug. 19, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    I’m with Joe Cosmo and James. Not only are they thieves, but they probably got special government financing to buy their businesses as a result of their immigrant/minority status?

  13. Joel Aug. 19, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Marcus..you are correct…but by that same definition…95%+ of the population isn’t indigenous to the US…therefore we are all or are offspring of immigrants.

    Also, btw, Matt..I work in the finanical industry…if they are Arabs/Indians, they aren’t considered as minorities as far as lending and grants are concerned.

  14. John R Aug. 19, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    And since the “Native Americans” emigrated here from Asia across the Bering Straits….nobody in America is indigenous.

  15. Mikey Aug. 19, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    No Joel, you are wrong. MOB (Minority Owned Business) – at least in goverment contracts and consulting work, DO get priority treatent and lending. MOB can be female, African-american, Indian, Pakistan, the list goes on.

  16. Reverend Dewey Cox Aug. 19, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    @John R:

    Finally! Someone that gets it. You nailed it, John.

    But don’t mention it to La Raza or any of the illegal immigrant factions.

  17. Burton Lane Aug. 19, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Well, let’s just say the Naive Americans are a whole lot more “indigenous” than you are.

  18. ml Aug. 19, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Well this would hardly be a dent given this business model is practiced by many similar ethnic cash businesses.

  19. Benji Aug. 19, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    James, it has nothing to do with one’s race you fool.
    This is happening at other gas stations, too, even those caucasian-owned ones whose pay-at-the-pumps devices are so called “broken and they can only take cash” and reluctantly want to give the customer the receipt!!!
    The white guy is doing it too, he just hasn’t gotten caught yet…

  20. lamonth Aug. 19, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    i have no problem in small businesses and the middle class not paying taxes – matter of fact taxes should only be paid by the rich and politicians. more people should not pay their taxes and get a revolt going in illinois

  21. dacox Aug. 19, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    ,” Madigan said. “Tax evaders — those who have broken the law — will not be tolerated,” she said.

    Unless they work for the government. Just look at Obama’s cabinet.

  22. mesharko Aug. 19, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Oooh. Tax evaders! Murders are running free all over Chicago, shooting little kids, old ladies and each other. But “Tax evaders will not be tolerated!” I suddenly feel so safe!

  23. joeschmo Aug. 19, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Uh, Benji, when was the last time you walked into a gas station and the owner (or person working there) was Caucasian? Has anyone else noticed since these stations have been bought by people from India that the service is quite lacking? The window washer squeegee is usually empty or is full of just plain water. You go inside and half the time the soda fountain is broken and if it IS working, they only carry one size cup (small). This is NOT how America became a great country. These citizens from India are coming here and buying up all the gas stations (and hotels) and giving us third-world country service. They don’t give a damn and now they are stealing tax money that WE paid for the gas.

    God help us.

  24. Hoagy Aug. 19, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Great work Lisa M. I all of these dead beats started paying their taxes as most of us do maybe this state wouldn’t be in the shape it is.Go get them all.

  25. mbgrant Aug. 19, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    If I know who that is, Joy is not a female. He’s a male.

  26. MM11 Aug. 19, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Minorities are not the only ones who run gas stations and convenience stores. My guess, though, is that they are more willing to work seven days a week, long hours each day than the “average American”. Hence, we see a lot of them working in these stores. Regardless of who you are or what business you run, just pay your taxes and be done. Kudos to hard- working, tax-paying people everywhere. Tax evaders, when the long arm of the law catches up with you, COUGH IT UP! As for the dirty stores, don’t go to them. I’ve walked out of convenience because some gave me the creeps. There will likely be ten more stores on your way home anyway. Reward the owners who take pride in their stores and keep them clean!

  27. Tom Aug. 21, 2010 at 11:46 a.m.

    @joeschmo are you retarded? why would they just have small cups or not fix the soda machine, that means they are losing customers retard!! And matter a fact i walked into a gas station this morning with a Caucasian working and also a white manager so get your facts right stupidass!

  28. tom priscot Aug. 23, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    if immigration officials raid these gas stations, none of them r legal and these owners never pay these foreign students minimum wage

  29. K Aug. 29, 2010 at 9:03 a.m.

    JOy Chemmachel is a He not a She……