WILKES-BARRE – A Hazle Township man charged with 59 counts of failing to pay more than $160,000 in taxes for an Arby’s Restaurant pleaded guilty to related charges Monday and was sentenced to a year probation.
Joseph Bissol, 57, of Evans Street, entered the plea to 39 counts of failure to make required disposition of funds and 20 counts of willful failure to file employer withholding tax returns.
County Judge Michael Vough immediately sentenced Bissol to one year probation. Court records indicate the $165,777 in restitution has already been repaid to the state Department of Revenue.
The state Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the case. Bissol was represented by attorney Frank Nocito.
According to court papers, Bissol worked as the co-owner and co-operator of two Arby’s Restaurants, one in Hazle Township and another in Selinsgrove, Snyder County.
The Attorney General’s Office began an investigation in 2011 into delinquent periods of taxes to be paid, which revealed $141,424 was due in sales tax and $24,333 was due for employer-withholding tax beginning in February 2010.
According to the criminal complaint, Bissol said the Selinsgrove location closed in March 2012.
Bissol allegedly told investigators that when he was contacted about delinquencies, he said he did not file sales tax returns because the business was losing money and he did not have the money at the time.
Bissol said he used sales tax money that was collected to “keep the business afloat” and he did not know it was a criminal offense to not timely file or pay sales tax returns.
Bissol allegedly told investigators the money was used for payroll and food bills, and he discussed it with his brothers, with whom he works, but it was his decision to use the collected sales tax money instead of remitting it to the state.