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Press Release

Bagel Company Owner Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion and Wire Fraud Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
Deceived Franchisees into Paying More Than $1.3 Million

A New York man pleaded guilty today to tax evasion and a wire fraud conspiracy.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Joseph Smith, of Fishkill, owned and operated New York Bagel, a business that operated in Pennsylvania and other states. Smith and Dennis Mason conspired to defraud individuals who sought to open new franchises of New York Bagel. Smith and Mason induced the prospective franchisees to open up New York Bagel stores by understating the startup costs, overstating the number of franchises that were up and running, and exaggerating the financial success of existing franchises. Smith and Mason charged prospective franchisees fees ranging between $7,500 and $44,500 to gain rights to open stores. When prospective franchisees learned of the misrepresentations, Smith refused to refund these fees.

For the years 2014 through 2016, Smith deposited more than $1.3 million in franchise fees into New York Bagel bank accounts he controlled. Smith spent these funds on personal items wholly unrelated to New York Bagel including rent for his personal home, recreational travel, car payments for personal vehicles and everyday living expenses. Smith did not timely file corporate or individual income taxes for these three years, or pay the taxes owed to the IRS, even though he was required by law to do so.

Mason previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud on June 25, 2020.

Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on May 24. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison on both the tax evasion and conspiracy charges, as well as a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania made the announcement.

IRS-Criminal Investigation is investigating the case.

Trial Attorney Eric B. Powers of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Ignall of the U.S. Attorney’s Office are prosecuting the case.

Updated February 11, 2022

Press Release Number: 22-120