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Posted December 13, 2011 | comments Leave a comment

Eatery in trouble over meals taxes

Owners of Blue Fox Billiards Bar and Grill indicted

By Candace Sipos -- csipos@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- The owners of the Blue Fox Billiards Bar and Grill owe Frederick County more than $5,000 in taxes, and this isn't the first time the establishment has had problems, according to county Treasurer C. William Orndorff Jr.

Orndorff said the owners have been withholding the food and beverage tax, or meals tax, from the county for the past nine months.

Richard Leroy Coffman, J'Neane Ann Coffman and Conrad Marcus Coffman were indicted by a Circuit Court grand jury Thursday on eight counts each of felony embezzlement and eight counts each of failing to "collect or truthfully account for and pay over" the meals tax. There are two indictments per person for each month, starting in February.

Restaurants collect meals tax in trust from every customer and are supposed to remit those collections by the 20th of the following month, Orndorff said. Typically, if a restaurant falls behind, county officials attempt to put the owners on a payment plan and work with them to get them back on track. He said he had been in contact with the Blue Fox owners long before the indictments were sought.

"This is not the first effort to bring the account current," Orndorff said. "The seriousness of this account and dollar amount is such that we pretty much exhausted the items that are permitted by the code without going into the court system. We're at the point that the other collection efforts were not working."

Conrad Coffman would not comment on the matter Friday.

According to Orndorff's office, the owners also have been delinquent on the real estate tax for the past two years. However, law states that the county cannot start any proceedings to sell the property until two years and 30 days after the beginning of delinquency. At the end of January, the county can begin that process.

Orndorff said his office has faced similar issues with a few county restaurants, but he hasn't seen an increase in the inability to pay meals taxes because of the recession.
"People didn't give up eating out, believe it or not," he said, noting that the amount of countywide meals taxes coming in has actually slightly increased over the past few years. "We do have other individuals who may struggle in that area but for the most part, between payment plans, they're resolved."

All three Coffmans are scheduled to return to court on Jan. 5 at 9 a.m.

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