FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                   TAX
NOVEMBER 4, 1994                                             (202) 616-2765
                                                         TDD (202) 514-1888


     WASHINGTON,  D.C. -  A former wholesale gasoline sales manager
from New Rochelle, New York, pleaded guilty in U. S. District Court
in Hauppauge, New York, for his role in a conspiracy to evade more
than $85 million in federal gasoline excise taxes, the Department
of Justice announced today. 
     John Barberio, 68, the former manager for New York Fuel
Terminal Corp., was the last of seven defendants to plead guilty to
the tax evasion scheme.  An eighth defendant, Viktor Batuner, is a
     Barberio's plea follows the October 27, 1994, guilty pleas of
former terminal operators Joseph A. Macchia, Lattingtown, N.Y., and
his three sons, Lawrence, George and Joseph L., for their role in
the tax fraud scheme from 1983 through 1988.  Joseph A. Macchia and
two of his sons, Lawrence and George, also pleaded guilty to two
counts of excise tax evasion.  Michael Varzar pleaded guilty on May
24 of this year for his role in the conspiracy and to two counts of
gasoline excise tax evasion.  New York Fuel Terminal Corp. was
registered with the Internal Revenue Service and was 

required to pay a tax on each gallon of gasoline it sold to an
unregistered company.  The Macchias, through New York Fuel, sold
almost 1 billion gallons of gasoline to unregistered companies
without paying the tax they owed.
     On October 13, Marat Balagula, pleaded guilty to five counts
of the indictment charging him with conspiracy and excise tax
evasion.  Balagula, who controlled many of the unregistered
companies to which New York Fuel sold gasoline, is currently
serving a 10-year sentence following his 1992 prosecution by the
Tax Division for his involvement in a separate gasoline excise tax
evasion scheme for which Barberio also was convicted.  Barberio was
sentenced to three years' imprisonment.  
     Evidence presented at Balagula's 1992 sentencing in the
earlier case implicated him as a member of a Russian organized
crime group headed by Evsei Agron.  According to testimony at the
hearing, on the day following Agron's gangland-style murder,
Balagula moved into Agron's office and took over operation of the
organization.  The sentencing court ruled that the probation
department properly concluded that Balagula "was a member of an
organization of criminals made up of Russians and other Eastern
European immigrants based in Brooklyn."  
     All of the defendants will be sentenced by Judge Leonard D.
Wexler at a later date.  Each faces a maximum of five years in
prison and a $250,000 fine for each count. 

     Assistant Attorney General Loretta Argrett of the Tax Division
said, "The Tax Division has a strong commitment to prosecute the
criminal elements who would deprive the nation's treasury of
millions of dollars in tax revenue.  This is only another step in
our ongoing efforts to eliminate motor fuels tax fraud and to
prosecute those criminals, organized or otherwise, who would
defraud the United States."