A Schenectady businessman who avoided jail time earlier this year in Schenectady County in a sales tax case also avoided prison time in an Otsego County animal cruelty and fraud case, according to a prosecutor there.
In return for a guilty plea to felony grand larceny, Frank Popolizio was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to not own any animals during his probation and pay a total of $130,000 in restitution to people he defrauded, Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl said recently. Popolizio was sentenced there in late November.
Popolizio, 67, pleaded guilty earlier to fourth-degree grand larceny. The plea was related to a scheme in which Popolizio took people’s money, but didn’t give them the animals they purchased.
Details of the scheme surfaced after Popolizio’s January 2012 arrest there related to his dog-breeding business, South Side Dogs. The business was raided by state police, who found dozens of malnourished dogs. Popolizio was accused of failing to care for dogs and cows that were found starving and not paying for hay he purchased.
The animals seized were restored to health and have been adopted out, Muehl said.
As a result of the allegations, Popolizio had to agree to not own any animals for the next five years, Muehl said.
“He’s not supposed to have so much as a goldfish,” Muehl said.
The restitution covers multiple animals sold but never delivered, including several cows, Muehl said. The cows were sold for upwards of $15,000, Muehl said.
“Getting the restitution for the victims was one of my main concerns,” Muehl said, “and also the fact that he’s not allowed animals for five years.”
Muehl said Popolizio is not required to pay the entire restitution immediately, but he must come up with about $30,000 in restitution early in his probation term.
His probation was transferred to Schenectady County and the status of his payments was unclear. If he doesn’t make the payments, Muehl said, he could face jail time.
Popolizio’s attorney in the Otsego County case, Adam Parisi, did not return calls for comment.
Popolizio’s Otsego County sentencing came five months after he was sentenced in Schenectady County to five years of probation in a sales tax case. In that case, Schenectady County prosecutors pushed for the restitution up front, with Popolizio paying nearly $100,000 he owed to the state for unpaid sales taxes related to his now-defunct Pentagon restaurant on Erie Boulevard in Schenectady.
In that case, he was also sentenced to perform 500 hours of community service, the equivalent of three months of 40-hour workweeks.
Popolizio has had a long history of problems with other forms of taxes, including not paying his property taxes. He was still more than $300,000 behind in taxes for his various properties as of last summer.