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By Lacey Gardner

Department of Justice announces two Southern Tier criminal convictions

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The owner of the “Country Kitchen” admits to paying over $235,000 in cash wages

Elmira drug dealer will do 144 months in prison

ROCHESTER, N.Y.-U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that Theodore LaFrance, of Hornell, NY, pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford to aiding or assisting in the preparation of a false or fraudulent tax return, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of $100,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan K. McGuire, who is handling the case, stated that LaFrance, who owned and operated T&J Country Kitchen Inc. in Hornell, hired Staff Leasing Inc. to provide payroll services for his business. Between 2014 and 2018, LaFrance provided false information to Staff Leasing Inc. regarding the wages T&J Country Kitchen Inc. paid to its cooking and cleaning staff. LaFrance did not report the wages that were paid in cash to staff members. As a result, Staff Leasing Inc. used the false information to complete and file quarterly Forms 941 on behalf of T &J Country Kitchen Inc. IRS. Between 2014 and 2018, T&J Country Kitchen’s 941s did not include a total of $235,560.42 in wages, which resulted in a tax loss of approximately $36,040.74.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Thomas Fattorusso, Special Agent-in-Charge.

Sentencing is scheduled for January 10, 2024, before Judge Wolford.

ELMIRA METHAMPHETAMINE DEALER GOING TO PRISON FOR 12 YEARS

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that Shawn E. Urbaniak, 43, of Elmira, NY, who was convicted of possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, was sentenced to serve 144 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Charles J. Siragusa. Urbaniak was also ordered to forfeit $5,311 in seized U.S. currency, and numerous seized firearms and rounds of ammunition.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Marangola, who handled the case, stated that Urbaniak was arrested June 22, 2022 following the execution of a search warrant at his residence Walnut Street residence in Elmira. During the search of the apartment, law enforcement recovered approximately 1.6 pounds of methamphetamine, 56 grams of fentanyl, and 56 grams of heroin, and drug paraphernalia. Law enforcement also found firearms, including a loaded 12 gauge shotgun and a loaded 20 gauge shotgun.

The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation by the Elmira Police Department, under the direction of Chief Kristen Thorne, the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Frank A. Tarentino III, New York Field Division, the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Brian Ratajczak.

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