Schenectady County

Real estate agents failed to file taxes, state officials say

Thirty-one people involved in the real estate industry are being charged with failing to file state

Thirty-one people involved in the real estate industry are being charged with failing to file state income tax returns, Albany County District Attorney David Soares announced Thursday.

The accused include two Capital Region agents for Realty USA, Joseph Fava, 61, of Schenectady, and Diane Campbell, 57, of Waterford.

Fava, who could not be reached for comment, is a well known civic activist in Schenectady. He resigned last December after eight years as president of the Stockade Association but stayed involved in organizing community festivals. He also has served on the boards of 440 Arts Center and the city’s public access television station, and directed local theatrical productions.

Reisa Farber, a fellow broker with Fava at the Realty USA office on Balltown Road in Niskayuna, said she and the branch manager were shocked to hear the news. Fava was not in the office late Thursday afternoon.

Campbell declined to comment about the case. She is described on the Web site of The Scott Varley Group as “a member of Realty USA’s President’s Council and a multimillion-dollar producer.”

Fava and Campbell are each charged with one felony count of failing to file income tax returns from 2004 to 2006. Fava allegedly owes $10,749, and Campbell $6,577.

Soares’ statement said: “The charges are the result of an initiative undertaken by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance’s Office of Tax Enforcement to identify professionals who have failed to file and remit personal income taxes to the state.” Five of the suspects, including Fava and Campbell, were arraigned Thursday in Albany City Court and released without bail “pending cooperation with the Tax Department to pay restitution and file accurate tax returns,” Soares’ statement said.

The other 26 suspects are scheduled to be arraigned on April 4. Twenty-nine of the 31 face felony charges, and two face misdemeanors.

Soares’ statement said it is a Class E felony to fail to file returns for three or more consecutive years, if taxes are owed. The maximum penalty is 1 1⁄3 to four years in prison.

State Department of Taxation and Finance Commissioner Robert L. Megna said in the statement: “We estimate that the taxpayers arrested today collectively failed to report more than $13 million in income and evaded about $650,000 in income taxes they owed the state.”

The defendants reside all over New York state, with only Fava and Campbell living in the Capital Region. Soares said they were charged in Albany County because that’s where the Taxation and Finance Department has its headquarters.

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