Guy A. Lewis, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and José I. Marrero, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, announced today that Jeffrey Gottfried appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow and was arraigned on charges stemming from his failure to pay the IRS approximately $357,000 in payroll taxes and his receipt of approximately $110,264 in tax refunds to which he was not entitled. He pled not guilty. A trial date has not been set by the Court.

On October 11, 2001, a federal grand jury sitting in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, returned an Indictment charging Jeffrey Gottfried with obstructing and impeding, and endeavoring to obstruct and impede, the due administration of the Internal Revenue Code in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7212(a). If convicted of each offense, Jeffrey Gottfried faces a maximum term of imprisonment of twelve years and a maximum fine of $1 million.

As set forth in the Indictment, Jeffrey Gottfried failed to pay to the IRS approximately $357,000 in payroll taxes for himself and employees of National Furniture Warehouse, Furniture To Go, Furniture To Go of North America, and Furniture To Go of Missouri, attempted to place assets beyond the reach of the IRS by wire transferring monies to a Swiss bank account, failed to file U.S. Employer's Quarterly Tax Returns, Forms 941, with the IRS for some quarters, caused his corporations to issue checks to himself totaling approximately $967,077, and paid his store employees approximately $102,677 in wages but failed to file with the IRS Wage and Tax Statements, Forms W-2, reporting those wages. The Indictment also alleges that Jeffrey Gottfried willfully made and subscribed joint U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns, Forms 1040, for the years 1994, 1995, and 1996, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(1). According to the Indictment, the returns were false because Mr. Gottfried reported a refund of taxes in the amount of $23,885, $23,896, and $26,209, respectively, knowing that such taxes had not been withheld and paid over to the IRS.