Business owners charged with not remitting sales taxes

George Jefferson pushes in his chair as he leaves Juneau District Court on Wednesday with Judge Keith Levy in the background. Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO News

A jury trial is set for mid-May for a business owner accused of not handing over collected sales tax funds to the City and Borough of Juneau.

George Jefferson, 50, appeared alone in Juneau District Court on Wednesday for arraignment on thirteen misdemeanor charges of failure to file sales taxes and thirteen misdemeanor charges of failure to remit sales taxes. A ‘not guilty’ plea was entered on his behalf.

CBJ prosecutors allege that Jefferson and his wife Virginia Jefferson, 54, operated the Thane Ore House and failed to report or remit $35,041.45 in sales taxes, interest, and penalties. According to an affidavit filed by prosecutors, the Thane Ore House did not turn over any taxes that were collected from customers from the Third Quarter 2009 through Third Quarter 2012, or three full years.

In at least two other cases (Wooly Mammoth Gifts and Douglas Inn) that ended up in court recently, prosecutors have referred to it as theft since the pocketed funds come from customers who had the expectation that the money would go to the municipality where it was due. The CBJ is seeking total restitution of $35,643.55 in the Thane Ore House case.

Thane Ore House is located past Mile 4 of the Thane Road before Sheep Creek. Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO News

Jefferson, who does not have a lawyer yet, was ordered to come back to court in two weeks for a representation hearing. He was released on his own recognizance and is not allowed to leave Southeast Alaska without permission of the court.

Virginia Jefferson did not appear in court on Wednesday. George Jefferson said his wife has moved to California and he is not in contact with her. She is also charged with 26 identical counts related to not filing or remitting sales tax returns.

Juneau District Court Judge Keith Levy says all of the charges are Class A misdemeanors that each carry a potential punishment, if convicted, of a year in jail and a $5000 fine.

Judge Levy ordered a bench warrant for $500 cash bail for Virginia Jefferson. The warrant would likely be quashed if Jefferson initiates contact before she arrives back in Alaska and is arrested.

Thane Ore House is located past Mile 4 of the Thane Road before Sheep Creek. Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO News

(Virginia Jefferson’s age has been corrected in this version of the story.)