Henry Sawaged, Daveco Liquors owner, ordered to pay $1.3 million restitution in tax scheme

Categories: Crime, News

Ghassan Sawaged mug shot cropped.jpg
Big photos below.
Last year, Hani "Henry" Sawaged, owner of Daveco Liquors, which boasts of being the world's largest liquor store, earned Schmuck of the Week honors after pleading guilty to a sales-tax underpayment scheme. He and two brothers, Ghassan and Bassam Sawaged, have now been ordered to pay well over $1 million in restitution. How did the scheme work? The indictment below spells it out.

According to the indictment, the City of Thornton, where Daveco is located, conducted what's described as a "routine sales tax audit" covering the sample months of December 2006, April 2007 and May 2008. After doing so, investigators noticed a number of inconsistencies, including "at least one month of negative domestic beer sales and a significantly smaller profit than industry standards." Moreover, "a large quantity of returned products was discovered, a majority of which were made either (1) just prior to Daveco opening for the business day or (2) immediately after Daveco closed for the business day."

daveco liquors exterior.jpg
Daveco Liquors.
Can you say "red flag"? We knew you could.

In the end, auditors determined that most of the returns were fictitious. Between January 1, 2007 and June 30, 2007, for instance, 10,166 items were shown to have been returned, resulting in a sales tax refund of more than $97,000.

Of the more than 10,000 returns, however, a whopping ten of them are believed to have been genuine -- actually a higher number than from July 1 and December 31 of 2007, when only seven of 16,806 returns were apparently real.

daveco liquors logo.jpg
The Daveco logo.
Creative accounting like this resulted in the Sawaged brothers saving more than $1 million in taxes -- but they're paying now. Henry pleaded guilty to violating the Colorado Organized Control Act. The deal keeps him out of jail -- he received a stipulated sentence of two years under probation overseen by the economic crime unit. But he's also been ordered to pay $1,309,423.83 in restitution.

As for brothers Ghassan and Bassam, they pleaded guilty to theft and failure to file a tax return. Their reward: a one-year deferred judgment sentence and an order to jointly pay $200,000 in restitution.

For some reason, Henry has avoided the ignominy of having a mug shot circulated -- but his brothers aren't so fortunate. Look below to see their booking photos, followed by the indictment.

Bassam Sawaged mug shot.jpg
Bassam Sawaged.

Ghassan Sawaged mug shot.jpg
Ghassan Sawaged.

Sawaged Indictment

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DonkeyHotay topcommenter

These sweatheart plea bargains for the rich and famous allow them to avoid having a Felony Conviction on their records via the "deferred sentence" ... which means that they won't lose their liquor license.

Business as usual for the Mega-criminals in the U$A.

Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

Funny how when there's a crime "against the state" the state figures out how to make it all about restitution (them getting cash.) Yet, when someone harms an individual, it's all about punishment (rather than restitution for the victims.)

You are the state's cash machine. You are its livestock.

davebarnes topcommenter

They could not help themselves.
Their cultural upbringing made them do this.
It is their parents' fault.

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Cognitive_Dissident ... imagine if Bank Robbers only had to pay back the $$$ they stole "if" they were caught ... and received "deferred sentences" for their crimes, meaning that after the probationary period, they would have no conviction on their records ... as will happen with these criminals.

Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay See how I didn't say "only restitution." Furthermore, restitution wouldn't be limited to what they took. It would include all the costs incurred by anyone because of their crime.

Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay As you like to do, you referred to a word associated with leftist bomb-throwers. Being neither leftist, nor a bomb thrower, it really has no reasonable application here. 

Liberty is for everyone, and I'm principled enough to allow for that. Why aren't you? There must be some specific reason for why you hate freedom.

As for your claim--it has nothing to do with reality. Market justice has nothing to do with the rich or the poor. It's for everyone. If someone damages someone, rich or poor, they should be expected to make the victim whole. What's wrong with that? 

Why do you try to make it about class warfare? In a free market, there's no such thing, because the powerful don't have the STATE to club each other with. In such a market, the poor, who are currently the biggest victims of the drug war, will be just as free as--if not more than-- you and I are. They will no longer be dragged into government courts, beholden to the rich, to answer for crimes that are not real, in a system run by attorneys they cannot afford to pay.

You need to work on your hatred problem.

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Cognitive_Dissident  ... in your Anarchist Universe ... the Wealthy should be allowed to simply buy their way out of any Criminal Liability and Prison sentence.

How special.

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