Used car dealer arrested for tax fraud, loses dealer’s license

BATON ROUGE – A Metairie used car dealer faces felony charges for evading sales taxes on the purchases of a Ferrari and a classic Lincoln Continental.

Investigators with the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) say Joseph Wayne Leone (Booking Photo) bought the cars using his LDR Resale Certificate, which allows sales-tax exempt purchases of items that are intended for resale to customers.  But he failed to pay sales taxes on the vehicles after registering them for his personal use.

“There are many different types of tax fraud,” said Barry Kelly, director of the LDR Criminal Investigations Division. “We investigate and prosecute anyone who defrauds Louisiana taxpayers.”

Leone bought the 2006 Ferrari for $124,000 from a dealer in Florida. When registering the car with the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV), Leone listed its taxable value as $5,000 and sold it to himself for that amount. Then he paid $479.75 in sales taxes for that purchase. He owes $6,885.48 in state sales taxes, penalties and interest for underreporting the taxable value of the Ferrari.

Leone also bought a 1956 Lincoln Continental in Texas for $44,000, but registered it with the Louisiana OMV for personal use with his home address. Because personal ownership of the car is not tax exempt, he owes $2,540 in state sales taxes, penalties and interest.

LDR worked closely with the Louisiana Used Motor Vehicle Commission on this investigation. “Mr. Leone’s used motor vehicle dealer’s license has been revoked,” said LUMVC Executive Director Derek Parnell. “Further investigation into his activities is underway, and more violations are pending.”

Leone was booked on Tuesday into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on charges of Theft, Injuring Public Records and Failing to Account for State Tax Monies. He is the 43rd person arrested under a joint anti-fraud initiative between LDR and the state Attorney General’s Office.

“Our anti-fraud initiative with the Department of Revenue has resulted in dozens of arrests of individuals whose actions negatively impact the hard-working taxpayers of Louisiana,” Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said. “We will continue to investigate and pursue those who commit fraud and violate the law.”

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