HORNELL, N.Y. (WETM) – A Hornell man has pleaded guilty to tax fraud regarding staff wages at the restaurant that he owned.

According to U.S. Attorney Trini Ross, Theodore LaFrance, of Hornell, pleaded guilty in front of Chief U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford to aiding or assisting in the preparation of a false or fraudulent tax return. This offense carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of $100,000.

According to U.S. Attorney Meghan K. McGuire, LaFrance, who owned and operated T&J Country Kitchen Inc., hired Staff Leasing Inc. to provide payroll services for the restaurant.

Between the years of 2014 to 2018, LaFrance provided false information to the payroll company regarding the wages he paid his cooking and cleaning staff. He did not report the wages that were paid in cash to staff members.

As a result, Staff Leasing Inc. completed and filed the false information in quarterly Form 941 on behalf of T&J Country Kitchen Inc. Between the years of 2014 and 2018, the restaurant’s 941s were missing a total of $235,560.42 in wages. This resulted in a tax loss of approximately $36,040.74.

LaFrance’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 10, 2024, before Judge Wolford.

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