Grove City man pleads guilty in federal excise tax scheme


Date: December 17, 2019


COLUMBUS, OHIO – John J. Lalonde, 52, of Grove City, Ohio, pleaded guilty to aiding and assisting in the presentation of a false quarterly federal excise tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Lalonde agreed to pay $165,000 in restitution to the IRS.

According to court documents, Lalonde was employed as a salesperson with Fyda Freightliner (“Fyda”).  Lalonde specialized in customizing “expeditor trucks” for purchasers.  Customizing those trucks caused the gross vehicle weight rating to exceed 33,000 pounds. The IRS imposes a 12% Federal Excise Tax (“FET”) on the first retail sale of a truck with a rating of over 33,000 pounds, which the dealership is required to pay. If a customer purchases a truck with a rating less than 33,000 pounds and then customizes the truck causing the rating to exceed 33,000 pounds, then the customer is responsible for the FET.

Lalonde structured sales, and the attendant sales paperwork, of the customized expeditor trucks in order to make it appear that customers purchased trucks and then customized them. However, Lalonde and Fyda were responsible for the customizations and should have paid the FET.

Aiding and assisting in the presentation of false quarterly federal income excise tax return with the IRS carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

"This defendant went to great lengths to avoid the Federal Excise Tax laws, but in the end, he has admitted to his misconduct and now faces a term of imprisonment and owes the IRS for the unpaid excise taxes,” said Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel A. Brown and was investigated by special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation.