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MADISON — Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen announced that Wissam Mehdi, an Elkhorn resident, entered pleas before the Hon. Stephen Ehlke, a Dane County Circuit Court Judge, to amended charges, including one count of felony offense fraudulent writing and two counts of the misdemeanor offense of aiding, abetting or assisting another person in the filing of a false tax return.
According to the complaint, Ali Shanaa and Assem Chanaa operated several retail establishments throughout southern Wisconsin that sold cigarettes and other tobacco products. In 2002, the Shanaa/Chanaa family purported to transfer ownership of these businesses to Mehdi. However, the Shanaa/Chanaa family continued involvement in the operation of these businesses and participated in the sale of the business from Mehdi to other persons in 2003.
From October 1, 2002, through December 31, 2002, the operators of the business retained sales tax revenue for the Dane County location in the amount of $11,663 dollars. Further, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue concluded that in October 2002 the operators of the business should have provided $28,997.35 in sales tax receipts to the Department of Revenue from operations at all 11 stores. In addition, the Department of Revenue investigation revealed that the businesses sold tobacco products for which neither the excise tax nor use tax were remitted to the state.
Ali Shanaa and Assem Chanaa previously pleaded guilty to theft of sales tax proceeds (two counts) and tobacco products tax evasion (two counts) in Milwaukee County Circuit Case Numbers 2005-CF-1984 and 1985 respectively, and received prison sentences.
Fraudulent writings is a felony offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine not to exceed $10,000, or both. Aiding, Abetting, or Assisting Another in Making a False Sales Tax Return is a misdemeanor that carries a term of imprisonment of not more than 30 days or a fine of not more than $500.
The case has been adjourned for a sentencing hearing to be scheduled at a later date.
The Department of Revenue investigated this case. Assistant Attorney General Donald V. Latorraca represents the State.
A copy of the criminal complaint is available at the following link: