Local man ordered to pay restitution for tax-related crimes

Former operator of El Paseo Jewelry Exchange must pay $184,000

PALM DESERT, Calif. - A man who operated two Palm Desert jewelry businesses is under orders to pay more than $184,000 in restitution for tax-related crimes, court documents obtained today show.  Atulkumar Bhogilal Mehta, 58, of Walnut was also sentenced to three years probation and 120 days in custody on July 10 after pleading guilty to one felony count each of misappropriation of funds, offering false evidence and preparing false records. Mehta, who ran El Paseo Jewelry Exchange and El Paseo Jewelry Inc., understated taxable sales at the businesses and owed more than $212,000 to the state Board of Equalization. He also filed fraudulent sales tax returns, gave the BoE fake sales invoices and kept a false sales journal, according to a declaration prepared in support of a search warrant.   He did so between January 2005 and December 2007, and January 2009 to March 2010, according to the declaration.

A sales tax audit by the Board of Equalization determined that El Paseo Jewelry Exchange on El Paseo was ``understating taxable sales and providing false documents in an attempt to avoid the sales tax liability,'' the declaration states. Search warrants subsequently served at Mehta's residences and businesses turned up more evidence of tax fraud, according to the document.   The Riverside County District Attorney's Office filed criminal charges in April. In exchange for his plea,  four counts of misappropriation of funds and one count of offering false evidence were dismissed at sentencing, according to court records.

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