SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A general contractor was charged with falsely claiming a sales tax exemption on hundreds of thousands of dollars of building materials.
James Wallace McBride, 36, faces ten tax-related felony charges, a single count of communications fraud and another charge of racketeering.
The Utah attorney general's office said McBride, owner of A.M.A. Construction, avoided sales tax with every purchase of building materials he made from May 2000 to June 2004, using a defunct business' expired tax exemption certificate.
"Our prosecutors and investigators for the Utah Tax Commission are keeping a close eye on people who are literally pickpocketing Utah taxpayers," Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said Wednesday in a statement. "Anyone who abuses the tax exempt status is putting the entire program in jeopardy."
McBride is accused of evading at least $82,000 in sales tax. He could be forced to pay back $200,000 including interest and penalties.
McBride refused comment on the particulars of the allegations when reached Wednesday by The Associated Press.
"The only thing I can say is it's a bunch of garbage. I got the best attorneys in Salt Lake working on it," said McBride. His attorney, Earl Xaiz of Ron Yengich's law firm, didn't return a call Thursday from the AP.
"You should see the stuff they charged me with. It's a laundry list of stuff," McBride said. "My attorneys are saying they're just piling it on. It's a sad day. When they first contacted me, I answered every question they had, and all of sudden two months later here come the charges. You got to be kidding me."
The felony charges are punishable by as many as 130 years in prison.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)